Over the last few months I've seen a few concerts that I never got a chance to review, so I'll just shove 'em together in summaries. And I'll throw in some audio recordings to sweeten the deal.
First up, my favorite new band of 2006, We Are Scientists. Their hook-filled brand of rock'n'roll is refreshing in a world of shoegazing, strange instruments, and angst. I hadn't had a chance to see them, but they took a night off from their tour supporting the Kaiser Chiefs for a headlining gig at the Potterrow Student Center at University of Edinburgh, November 6th.
They had two openers, Kid Harpoon and The Departure, one of which almost stole the show. Kid Harpoon looked like a dock waif in ripped leather jacket and mullet, bouncing around with his acoustic guitar in front of a five-piece band. He joked at one point that most of his songs were about killing girls, which was pretty accurate, most of his lyrics being Decemberists-esq accounts of antique times and values. Closing with a cover of First We Take Manhattan on speed (see here for a recording), his twenty-minute set quickly convinced the small crowd that this misfit was worth keeping an eye on.
The Departure were as generically loud and angsty as a group could be, with no one moving on stage and everyone moving in the audience…by walking away. A well-named band, as everyone was glad when they did just that, departed.
The crowd somehow tripled in size in the twenty minutes before We Are Scientists came on. When they did, the three-piece had turned into a four-piece, with an extra member named Max on keyboards and guitar. He was all but worthless, as his instruments were never audible and, if they had been, I still can’t imagine what they would have added. Part of the allure of the band is the stripped-down raw sound that adding more instruments will just clutter. The other line-up change was a recently added replacement drummer. He looked dorky and confused the whole time…so he fit perfectly.
They kicked right into their hit (small hit) and my favorite song, Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt and followed with ninety minutes of relentless rock’n’roll. The between-song comedy banter they are known for was at a minimum, but the fun they were clearly having was not. It’s generally not considered “cool” for rock bands to go around grinning, but their happiness was infectious.
Having only one official album (plus a b-sides set that they ignored), they played most of its songs with plenty of room for new stuff. All the new material, the titles I can only guess at, stood up proudly next to the old stuff, to the point that by the end of the songs people were singing along. Most featured absurdly catchy choruses, “woah-oh-ohs” aplenty, and the guitar thrashing of lead singer Keith Murray. As a side note, this show also marks the first time I’ve seen a crowd sing along to a guitar riff, on The Great Escape.
Nobody Move, Nobody Gets Hurt
The Scene Is Dead
NEW SONG (Impatience)
NEW SONG (Let's See It)
NEW SONG (Altered Beast)
It's a Hit
Worth the Wait
NEW SONG (Tonight)
NEW SONG (After Hours)
The Great Escape
NEW SONG (Dinosaur)
Download a soundboard recording from a set on 12/12/07