TVD Live: We Are Scientists and PAWS at the Grog Shop, 4/23

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC | There’s something shocking about bands that actually get along and smile on stage. 

It all seems so counterintuitive because being a musician for a living should be kind of awesome and fun. To us working stiffs, driving around to play shows and have beers every night in different cities sounds pretty damn cool.

However, many bands put up emotional barriers, not only from the audience, but from each other. I don’t know if it’s for the sake of looking cool, or just a general disdain artistic types have for people around them, but it’s jarring to see people actually have fun while playing music.

For indie scene vets We Are Scientists and their opener, PAWS, that joy is still there.

Both bands openly chatted, at length, with both themselves and the audience while on stage. Were the jokes sometimes corny and silly? Sure. But we’re at a rock show not a comedy show, and it helped the audience identify with the bands and who they are at their cores.

To get their set started, We Are Scientists made a grand arrival to the stage to… wait for it… REO Speedwagon’s “Keep On Loving You.”

Yeah, very silly stage entrance music… but that’s some solid fucking gold. Go ahead. Take the next three minutes and 30 seconds to go listen to it. This review isn’t going anywhere.

Alright, back? Cool. Pretty great, right?

It was corny to do, but really appropriate to who We Are Scientists are as artists. They just make fun music and have a blast playing it; there’s no need to over think this.

Kicking off the show with “Return the Favor” off their new record TV en Français, We Are Scientists showed the ability to take the produced pop sheen that their records have and really let the grit come through. “Return the Favor,” on the record, is a dreamy song that crescendos at the end with a really cool guitar lead and rocking ending. Live? Multiply the rockin part by ten.

Things really picked up when the band launched into “Nobody Moves, Nobody Get Hurt,” which could be regarded as the band’s biggest hit. Kids started jumping around and dancing at this point, which was awesome see at a rock show.

And let me take an aside here—when I say kids, I mean kids. Like late high school/early college kids. I’m 33 and normally don’t think of myself as “old,” but I felt old as dirt. Young kids to the point I could saunter up to the bar and get a beer without waiting at all.

So I take this aside to tell you that people who say that kids aren’t into rock music anymore are really dumb and probably haven’t been to a relevant show in quite a while. End of rant.

The rest of We Are Scientists’ set was a blast and was a nice mix of stuff off their new record and earlier work from their catalog.

A standout from the set was “Textbook” which motivated an audience member to yell “That was textbook!” as soon as the song ended. This inspired endless debate the rest of the evening between singer/guitarist Keith Murray and bassist Chris Cain over what that unidentified audience member meant. Was he referring to the merits of the how the song was played (e.g. “That was a textbook performance of that song.”) or identifying that, yes indeed, that song was named “Textbook”? We’ll never know.

Summary of We Are Scientists’ set: Great songs. Surprisingly ripping guitar leads. Lots of wacky stage banter. Kids dancing. Fun was had by all.

The show was opened by PAWS, an indie/punk band from Glasgow, and they were pretty cool. They had tons of energy and kind of the feel of an early 2000’s punk thing going on. Think Superchunk, but Scottish.

Much like We Are Scientists, there was plenty of between song banter to be had, mainly centering around how big tallboy cans of PBR are. Yeah I mean I guess they have a point; they were little men and those were giant cans of beer. The drummer of the band didn’t even sing harmonies on any of the songs, but had a dedicated microphone just for chatting with this other two band mates. They sounded not only like band mates, but buddies.

At the end of the night it was evident that We Are Scientists have a proven formula for younger bands like PAWS to follow: Have a good time on stage and the results will follow. Both these bands did and showed the crowd a really fun night and what rock music can be in a small club atmosphere.


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