We Are Scientists, Astoria, London
Monday 17 April 2006
It's very We Are Scientists, that. If you take them as geek-rockers in a Weezer-cum-Ween vein, it's no surprise that WAS aren't above playing the old split-the-crowd game. They're witty pranksters, and their quick-and-dry stage banter is almost as funny as their website is. And from their slash-and-bawl indie-punk songs, to their 37-minute debut album, to their rapid rise on the back of seven tours in a year, they do everything at such a pace that a break-up wouldn't seem out of keeping. The T-shirts on their merchandise stall say "Trust us, we are scientists", but would you buy a bag of used geek-rock from a band in such a hurry? Yes, if you can gauge an answer from spoonfuls of their fans' sweat tonight.
You don't need a PhD to see why. Arriving on stage to the sound of thunder cracks, WAS lunge like lightning into "This Scene Is Dead", a speed-of-youth song about being too drunk to score, but continuing drinking in denial of the fact that you're going home alone. It's typically arch of WAS to open their set with a song about the end of a night, but it is perfectly angular and wry material for a none-too-sober crowd.
If the roots of WAS are in geek-rock, they cloak it cleverly with Killers-sized choruses (perhaps too much so on the "Mr Brightside"-esque "Worth the Wait"), Franz Ferdinand-ish smarts and shifting rhythms that lift speeded-up tricks from innumerable punk-funkers. The wit they add to this sound is winning, as well, not least because it's a far cry from The Killers' pouting earnestness.
But why the rush? WAS are quick and clever, but you wonder if prolonged exposure will reveal that the repetitions (wiry verses, beefy choruses) that they rely on are less than the sum of their parts. They close with "The Great Escape" and stick to a no-encores policy, getting out while the going is good, but leaving the impression of being likeable yet too fast to really love. Perhaps they should try slowing down. Then we can take a closer look at the merchandise.
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