Review and photos- We Are Scientists at the Biltmore Cabaret, July 27 2010
– text by Erin Hanson/photos by Robyn Hanson
On Tuesday night, We Are Scientists packed the dancefloor of Vancouver’s Biltmore Cabaret with their dancey-rock/comedy show. The show comes four years and three albums after they played here to promote the fantastic With Love and Squalor.
After opening with “Nice Guy,” the latest single off their new album Barbara, We Are Scientists followed with “The Scene is Dead”, from With Love and Squalor. Newly armed with Razorlight‘s former drummer, Andy Burrows (a deadringer for Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls that night), the band kept the set upbeat and quick-paced throughout.
Although I do love With Love and Squalor, I found that their tried-and-true song structure left a bit to be desired in terms of musical variety. They peppered the set with singles like “Impatience” and “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt”.
The Biltmore was packed, and a challenge for a short person such as this reviewer to navigate my way around the dancefloor. However, it doesn’t really matter so much with We Are Scientists, however—they’re a band you don’t need to see to appreciate. So catchy, each song inspired pockets of dance parties all over the floor.
It was a little perplexing, though. Like any gig, each person seemed to have come to the show with an idea of the songs they wanted to hear. Tonight, however, there seemed to be some very apparent mixed reactions. One song would send a few people through the roof as a few others yawned. With the next song, some guy might flail in front of me as those next to him stood idly.
Regardless, it was clear that the crowd was having a good time overall, and these isolated dance parties came to a head when the entire floor went absolutely nuts for “The Great Escape”, another With Love and Squalor tune.
And the banter between vocalist/guitarist Keith Murray and vocalist/bassist Chris Cain was actually funny. They speculated just how much better their set could be if only they had a fog machine – Cain attributed it to an outdated Vancouver city bylaw created out of fear of werewolves. There were even a few jokes at Elvis Costello’s expense (I might have missed the reference, but I found their mock-Costello ditty about Burger King hilarious nonetheless).
And, in a funny-because-its-true moment, Cain subtly mocked those in the crowd who end up watching entire gigs through their camera screens. The band also delighted fans when they asked us for reasons why they should move to Vancouver, insisting that they are considering relocating. Oh, you tease!
We Are Scientists finished the set off with “After Hours”, which made the crowd happy, and as we began chanting “One more song!” the group returned in a flash, with Murray smiling and saying, “We’re one step ahead of you.” (I appreciate it when bands don’t bother with the ceremony of the encore pleading.) The encore consisted of just one song, “Cash Cow,” but that left us satisfied. Within minutes of leaving the stage, the band moseyed on over to the merch table and spent time talking with fans and signing CDs.
Overall, the concert played out like one of their songs—not too short but not too long, not the most revolutionary thing you’ve ever seen but catchy as all hell, a sort of concise dance party with a healthy dose of humour. And what more could you want out of a rock show?