We Are Scientists

Nicole Schuman

Enough with the dum-dums. We want Scientists.

We Are Scientists

We Are Scientists

City: Buffalo, NY
Venue: Icon
Date: 2006-01-13

By the time We Are Scientists made its way to Buffalo, the hipster buzz had become a roar. When the trio descended upon the Icon, a sea of hoodies, worn-out t-shirts, and striped button-downs was there to welcome them -- the wearers of all this uber-hip couture endlessly excited for the arrival of New York City's latest super-hype. I admit it; I was just as interested to see what all the hype was about. Sure, I'd been really impressed by the skronky garage-pop anthems that fill the band's debut, With Love and Squalor, but the ultimate test for any band is their live performance. No matter how great your songs sound on CD, if you don't show heart when you hit the stage, you're no better than all those generic MTV icons and wannabe pop-punkers. And plus, from a reviewers point of view, it's really hard to write about mediocrity. Of course, by that standard, this review is one of the easiest I've ever written. We Are Scientists blew me away from their very first note. The room was packed, but there was still enough space to bop a bit. All types turned out: lots of older fans, early to mid- and-late-20s, and a few teens sprinkled in for good measure. The band, like the fans, was way beyond enthusiastic. The trio -- Keith Murray (guitar and lead vocals), Chris Cain (bass guitar and backing vocals and Michael Tapper (drums and backing vocals) -- emits a sound similar to that of bands like the Killers and Hot Hot Heat, but manages to take it up a notch with more precise, sexy tunes. It was clear from the start that the band's members know what they're doing: they don't execute the songs in the snobbish, holier-than-thou way of so many similar acts. Though they've conquered the stages of some of the industry's most impressive showcases -- SXSW and CMJ to name two -- the boys themselves didn't seem "imposing" at all. Instead of some reserved, robotic style, they blended their harmonies while letting their personalities show. The result was that, rather than feeling some distant sense of awe, the audience felt a comfortable connection with the men on stage. The mesmerizing dance-rock melodies from their debut were well-executed, perfect sounds for garage rock lovers. The band played its face off on tracks like "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt" and "The Great Escape". At points, I found myself hypnotized by the bassist's lush mustache, particularly when he decided to start screaming about whatever was bothering him about the crowd -- which was pretty much nothing. Bands like this give me hope. They remind me that, despite what people say, rock is not dead. And its audience isn't, either. The fact that people are able to move (and be moved) by this type of music is all the proof you need. This was an "indie" show, but instead of shoe-gazing, I saw people smiling and having a good time. We Are Scientists functions like an indie act even though it belongs to major label Virgin Records. Maybe the record companies are finally getting a clue, finally understanding that the fans want real music, real musicians, and real connections. We Are Scientists deliver all of that and more. They know that we don't just want another prepackaged band, brainlessly chasing some ridiculous "rock star" ideal. We want Scientists.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.