- Live Review: We Are Scientists @ Koko, London
People often claim that bands these days have no longevity or end up being another casualty of the one-hit-wonder curse, but We Are Scientists don’t fit into that cynical paradigm. They’re just as fresh as when they first burst onto the scene with 'With Love And Squalor', and if you’re only familiar with a handful of their singles I’d highly recommend you give any of their five albums a spin.
Last Wednesday night, iconic Camden venue Koko played host to thrilling New York-based indie rock band We Are Scientists.
Formed in California by Keith Murray, Chris Cain and former drummer Scott Lamb, We Are Scientists shot to prominence when they released their first album With Love and Squalor back in 2005. The album received a cult following and the band’s early tracks ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt‘, ‘The Great Escape‘ and ‘It’s a Hit’ with their catchy hooks and scratchy guitar riffs have become modern classics. Follow-up album Brain Thrust Mastery (2008) further cemented We Are Scientists’ position in the alternative indie scene with addictive tracks such as ‘Chick Lit’ and ‘After Hours’. Third and fourth albums Barbara (2010) and TV en Français (2014) are home to some of the band’s lesser-known but arguably most accomplished work, stepping their songwriting formula up a notch and producing some of my personal all time favourite songs. Fifth album Helter Seltzer, released this April, doesn’t disappoint either. Just check out single ‘Buckle’ and the accompanying throw-everything-messy-you-can-think-of-in-Chris’-face video and you’ll see what I mean! The boys treated us to an energetic live rendition of tracks which spanned all five of their albums.
Koko was the penultimate venue on the band’s seven-date UK tour before heading off back across the Atlantic to embark on their US tour. After traversing Koko’s stairs for the perfect vantage point with a Pina Colada in hand, we were ready to experience the songs that have sound-tracked our youth first hand.
They kicked off proceedings with With Love and Squalor classic ‘This Scene is Dead‘. The duo roared into heavy guitar riffs, bringing every last corner of Koko to life and with lyrics like “you can’t go home / the night is young” it was a more than fitting opener. They swiftly hurtled into new track ‘Buckle’, shaking the venue’s foundations with pounding bass and unrelenting drums. 11 years on from releasing their debut album and ‘Buckle‘ is a case in point that they’re very much still at the top of their game. Stomping classic ‘Chick Lit‘ was on the bill next, electrifying the audience and throwing everyone into a frenzy.
Between tracks Keith and Chris entertained the audience with a bit of ad-libbing and general chit chat. The pair’s mutual interest in stand-up comedy was very much apparent and they bounced off each other with their hilarious anecdotes. At one point they commented on the top-notch cat artwork from Helter Seltzer that had been translated onto the stage backdrop and dedicated the next track to “the twins” (the two cooler-than-you cats with their chains and cigarettes who overlooked proceedings with an air of nonchalant superiority).
It’s a tough choice but I think my favourite album is TV en Français, and they treated us to three tracks from the album. ‘Do What You Do Best’ with its catchy, upbeat rhythm and singalong lyrics, ‘Dumb Luck‘ (rapid guitars, cutesy keys and harmonies) and my all-time fave ‘Make It Easy’ which has the makings of a downtempo love song. But all expectations are thrown on their head when the guitar riffs kick in.
Classics ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt‘ and ‘The Great Escape’ caused a frenzy of moshing and a constant stream of crowdsurfers. The same could be said when the opening riffs of ‘After Hours‘ flooded through the airwaves, signalling the last track of the night: “This night is winding down but time means nothing”: a fitting outro if ever there was one. Keith and Chris vacated the stage with a flourish, leaving the guitars reverberating in their wake before suddenly returning to treat us to a two-track encore.
Keith broke into a raw rendition of ‘Textbook‘ (a barrage of off-kilter drum beats, ear-splitting riffs and downtempo vocals), leaping off of the stage and joining the crowd before launching into new single and final track of the night ‘Too Late‘. The track has a timeless rock sound with its understated guitars, unshowy beat and atmospheric synths and was the perfect wind-down to an incredible set.
18 songs later and I had a We Are Scientists-shaped feeling of contentment brewing inside me, a direct result of the band playing every one of their songs that I love. Without a doubt I already want to see them again; I want to experience Keith’s crazy head-banging and Chris’ jokes one-liners all over again. People often claim that bands these days have no longevity or end up being another casualty of the one-hit-wonder curse, but We Are Scientists don’t fit into that cynical paradigm. They’re just as fresh as when they first burst onto the scene with ‘With Love And Squalor‘, and if you’re only familiar with a handful of their singles I’d highly recommend you give any of their five albums a spin.
We Are Scientists are touring across the US this May and then onto Europe in June, before more gigs across the US in July but they’ll be back in the UK for three festival dates during the late summer. Find out more about We Are Scientists, their tour dates and get your hands on their new album here.
And check out new single Buckle and its highly amusing and highly messy video below.