We Are Scientists open up their set at Neumos on Wednesday night. Check out a slideshow of photos from the concert here.
This being (somehow) my first visit to Neumos, the first thing I noticed after walking through the door was the absolute intimacy of the venue. There’s no barrier between the crowd and the stage, and I thought that was absolutely awesome. But I’ll say this now: We Are Scientists disappointed me. And, for the first time in a long time, the headliners were outdone by their opening acts. But more on that later.
I walked in halfway through The Morning Benders’ set, but after listening for all of 30 seconds I wished I had caught the first half as well. I was originally impressed that such young kids had such a polished act and sound, but it turns out the members of the four piece from Berkeley are all at least 20 years old.
Wailing on his guitar, Chris Chu rocks a thoroughly entertained crowd during The Morning Benders’ opening set on Wednesday night.The set was super catchy and energetic, the epitome of danceable indie-rock — or, as described by frontman Chris Chu told me, “aural bliss with a twist of lime.” I felt really guilty for not knowing a thing about the band before walking in the door, but I made sure that was fixed before I left. Let’s put it this way: I bought their CD, and I haven’t bought a CD in literally years. I’m happy about the purchase. (I actually owe Chu a buck — the album was selling for $10 and I only had $9. What a guy!)
Cut Off Your Hands, a bunch of crazy Kiwis, followed up with the next set. In all seriousness the guys are from New Zealand, but if crazy were used to describe them it would be the best type of crazy possible.
Nick Johnston adds his voice to Cut Off Your Hands’ special brand of upbeat and incredibly danceable indie-rock.
If I had to say one bad thing about their set, it would be that it was cut short. The guys built on the energy from The Morning Benders, and when they ripped into “Expectations” the crowd had every reason to dance. The whole band was a lot of fun to watch, but Johnston’s antics were easily the most entertaining. He waded into the crowd, struck a bass drum at his feet and writhed in ways that his neck should not have been able to handle. Also, he makes the tambourine look its coolest since Dylan's “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
We Are Scientists came on next… but over half an hour late, and nearly an hour after the stage had been cleared from the previous act. Needless to say, their 11 p.m. slot was “made flexible.” Some of those in the front row were literally lying across the edge of the stage. But, the die-hard fans couldn’t have cared less.
Frontman Keith Murray shares his mic with a fan after venturing offstage during We Are Scientists’ set.
Despite how much the band pissed me off in the beginning — aside from the lateness, their roadie pre-opened their bottled waters — they’re a band that’s hard to hate. And after lead singer/guitarist Keith Murray made a foray into the crowd, I was feeling a lot better. Murray upheld an energetic stage presence, and the set list included a lot from “With Love and Squalor” (the better album) including “Cash Cow” and “It’s a Hit,” so I was happy. But as my friend Sam put it, “They looked almost as jaded standing on stage as I did standing there not enjoying them playing.”
I have two new CDs on heavy rotation after tonight. Neither is the band I actually came excited to see, but I’m completely satisfied with the results.