Words By Chris Bryz-Gornia | Photos By Brittany Mason
The Boot and Saddle, a small inviting venue located in Philadelphia, hosted two indie/alternative bands: We Are Scientists and PAWS. What made this show a memorable experience for all patrons was what I like to call “the gate-keeper factor.” For those who have no idea what I mean, it is the inevitable encounter one expects with the band itself; selling their merchandise and engaging in conversation with the fans before they perform. And this factor greatly contributed to what We Are Scientists are all about; that is having a good time on and off the stage while developing a personal relationship to any devoted fan or first-time listener.
Past this experience, through the double doors was the actual setting of the performance, as I should describe the space as an encapsulating conduit; where, the acoustics flooded the ears with a pleasurable moderation of sound and tonal depth. The anticipation of the crowd ceased with the opening act, PAWS. On tour with We Are Scientists for the third time, this indie rock trio from Scotland delivered an excellent taste of bursting tonalities with harmonious vocals and rapid drumming. As in “Tongues,” from their newly recorded album, Youth Culture Forever, the beginning riff compliments the fluctuations in the vocals, transcending a fluent appeal to the listener. The invigorative appeal to PAWS positive energy is even found in “Give Up,” where the bass thumps to a poppy flare and the drums convey the same amount of intensity in its beats, while the vocals simulate the composition in the chorus. The relationship between the bands and the audience was not only observed through exposition, but also through bits of comedy and dialog in between each set.
Toward the conclusion of their performance, they were modest in their response to the crowd’s ovation, as they said “we usually get ripples of pity.” They also commemorated a song to a buddy back home who they assumed would be watching a Steven Spielberg film; “Jurassic Park or something,” as they put it.
PAWS was just a taste of things to come, for when We Are Scientists flourished the stage, the ambiance dimmed, and the light fixtures casted different shades of the color spectrum. Keith Murray and Chris Cain embraced the crowd with a casual countenance, both holding a beer as they strapped on their instruments. Their demeanor reached the pinnacle to a serious performance until Keith verbally noted that he will be “acclimatized” after he indulged in a few more sips of his 12oz.
Even before the music began, We Are Scientists instituted the same personality on stage as they did at the gate. Their performance began with Keith striking his Fender Telecaster in the back to amplify the reverberating distortion that would soon be interpreted as the first song of the concert, “Let’s See It” from their 2008 album, Brian Thrust Mastery. Toward its conclusion, Keith entered an emphatic solo that brought his body to a frantic state of movement – transmitting the energy from his guitar to the audience’s spectral gaze; and no doubt, it was contagious, for everyone was absorbing the vibes. After the initial ‘beat-down on the strings and drums’ the dialog between Keith and Chris commenced.
The traditional warm welcoming of We Are Scientists performing in the state of Pennsylvania was diverted to a comical observance to common facts (probably unknown to most of the crowd) of the state of Mississippi. Keith praised Mississippi for its indigenous Bull Weasels, as he said “ones you could not even dream of.” Chris interjected to note another important aspect of Mississippi . . . the craw dads, to which the preceding song, “Rules Don’t Stop” (from their 2010 album, Barbara), was commemorated to. This song housed another exuberant amount of zesty sounds. Keith’s vocals were on target with Chris’s bouncy bass-line; relaying right into the harmonious ‘pounce’ noises emanating from Keith’s Telecaster.
There was a reoccurring theme that could not be ignored throughout the comedic conversation between Keith and Chris; because right after “Rules Don’t Stop” they picked it up right where they left off. They inquired the name of the mayor of Philadelphia, as to the crowd’s response was, “Nutter!”
At this point of the show, We Are Scientists progressed, consecutively playing “Chick Lit” and “I Don’t Bite,” both intrinsically jolting songs from two different albums; Brain Thrust Mastery and Barbara. They also played “Make It Easy” from their new album TV En Francais, released this past March. It was a change of pace from their older hits, but instilled a reverberating sense of peace, as to their development in their sound. The composition incorporated a zappy echo from the guitar effect, accompanied by the rhythmically inclined drum beats that formulated a crescendo toward the chorus. This was one of the many tracks from their newest album that can be seen as a retrospect to their progress as a band.
Along with their vibrant and witty humor was the concept of general concern for their fans. While tuning his guitar during a set-break, Chris asked if everyone was comfortable. This question was followed up by his statement of the Russian airline motto “your comfort is our priority.” The pivot of the inquiry was to incite irony, for Keith followed up with saying, “well, the Russian airline is far from comfortable.” They continued with playing the songs “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt,” Which grew on me the moment I heard it, and “After Hours.” The beauty I found in this song was the implication of a catchy zinger note right after the lyric “stay” from the chorus. It had a subtle resonance that embellished the impressionable guitar lick. At the end of the show, Keith and Chris implored the crowd to preempt their departure from the stage with an encore. This brought the closing to a wonderful performance that would permanently rest in each fan’s memory, along with the indulgence of conversations with the two members at the merchandise table.
Photos By Brittany Mason