We Are Scientists – Live in NYC

New York’s own We Are Scientists, who ended their 2023 back home at Bowery Ballroom....
We Are Scientists : Live
We Are Scientists : Live

December is maybe when you’d be least likely to go to a show. It’s cold out. You’re stuck in that month-ish between Thanksgiving & Christmas that’s been weird since grade school, and acts don’t tour America much then as well. You’re dealing with the holidays, from the crowds to the spending to your family. You’ve already got New Year’s Eve reserved as your ‘night for going out’. Add in if you’re a New Yorker, who has the world at your plate twelve months of the year, with the high standards to boot, you’re likely just gonna stay in.

Unless it’s an act that you know & love, that you’re 100% sure will deliver every time, but also make it different every time. Like New York’s own We Are Scientists, who ended their 2023 back home at Bowery Ballroom on Friday, December 15th.

Chris Cain

The trio of singer/guitarist Keith Murray, singer/bassist Chris Cain, and drummer Keith Carne were playing the final night of their U.S. tour of this year’s LOBES (QRO review), their first full American tour since COVID. Not that they hadn’t played NYC since those heady days – indeed, had played the Big Apple just back in January (QRO live review). But the city always comes out for We Are Scientists, and it was a packed Bowery (QRO venue review), but at least a politely packed house, the Gen X/Geriatric Millennials apologizing when they had to squeeze past you.

We Are Scientists

The set list was naturally focused on LOBES, from the evening’s opener “Lucky Just To Be Here” to the encore closer “Less From You”, the band’s nice mix of energy and emotion coming through on the new songs, as well as the old classics. So maybe the crowd cheered louder for oldies like 2005 debut album With Love & Squalor’s “It’s a Hit” or “Nobody Move, Nobody Gets Hurt” than anything else, but it’s notable how later songs have become live hit staples, such as into-the-encore break “After Hours” (2008’s Brain Thrust MasteryQRO review), “Nice Guys” (2010’s BarbaraQRO review), “Buckle” (2016’s Helter SeltzerQRO review), or “I Cut My Own Hair” (2021’s HuffyQRO review). With each new album released, it becomes harder & harder to make a set list (nothing from 2014’s TV en FrançaisQRO review – or 2018’s MegaplexQRO review), but We Are Scientists are veterans of the game.

Keith Murray

And they always bring their A-game banter to their live shows. Cain and Murray are notorious for their hilarious, off-the-cuff back-and-forth, cracking the other up as much as the crowd (even during COVID, they brought it with their hysterical Instagram livestreams). This evening started with them thanking New York City, “The capital of New York State” as Cain joke-erroneously said (later adding that he has a place in Albany, but spends his weekends in NYC!). Murray lamented that he was behind on the work of clearing out his Netflix cue (which he noted one does not get to on tour). But the particular high point was after LOBES’s “Settled Account”, when Cain described how professional they are with their “tight trick” transitions – which Murray noted that they had just “fucked it up.” He wasn’t blaming anyone, but it was Cain, who blamed Carne for not playing the bass for him. So, they restarted the last few bars of “Settled” so as to transition into “Hit”, Cain noting that you still got the transition, “And this long speech.” There was even a perhaps-too-old-for-it crowdsurfer, though the surf was “the safest I’ve ever seen,” said Carne.

There were also some nice dedications at the end. It was their friend Meredith’s birthday (in attendance – some friends of her started a “Meredith!” chant while the band was still bantering). One of the group’s closest friends, Christian, had passed earlier this year, and We Are Scientists dedicated the whole year to him. And Cain also dedicated the last song of the night to his boy Dash, a teenager now, but has been going to We Are Scientists shows since he was five.

It’s easy to want to stay inside in December, only spending your free time outside in order to get gifts & give gifts. But We Are Scientists gave their hometown a gift to close out 2023.

We Are Scientists

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