We Are Scientists @ The Garage, Glasgow, 10 May
Tonight at The Garage feels like more of a We Are Scientists greatest hits set than a Megaplex promotional tour
“You’re gonna shit your pants when you hear this,” Chris Cain assures us. We Are Scientists' bassist is confident about the setlist he and silver-mopped frontman Keith Murray have cooked up for us tonight – and quite rightly. With generous highlights from each of their six albums to date, this is less a Megaplex promotional tour than it is a celebration of the New York band’s finest.
The Garage attendees have been primed by The Pale White’s distortion-driven rock, with a full crest of heads looking down from the balcony into the venue’s main space. The Newcastle outfit might lack the seasoned ease and dry wit of our headliners, but their tight tunes are keeping us hooked.
It’s easy to forget just how funny Murray and Cain are together onstage; tonight they struggle with cheap leads, presume Glasgow to be the capital of the UK and caution against using a GP who sits on a throne. Murray’s even presented with a cake for his birthday. They’ve always had this comedic yin to their sincere indie-rock yang, something you don’t get on the records. By the same token, the poppier tracks from their latest offerings – like One In, One Out or Too Late – are transformed into guitar-driven hits live, while recent bangers like Buckle from Helter Seltzer amp up the beef.
It’s the callbacks from their catalogue that inevitably spark the fieriest reactions; Brain Thrust Mastery’s Chick Lit is tantamount to audio TNT, while After Hours’ night-out-nostalgia is extra potent here, the rubber-legged Murray’s manic energy yanking out his (cheap) guitar lead half way through.
Ultimately, though, it’s a reminder that With Love and Squalor – the band’s seminal debut – is packed with classics. The Great Escape, It’s a Hit and Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt earn frenzied, scrunched-face singalongs from floor to ceiling. Textbook, their closing track, sends Murray through the crowd, collecting high-fives, hugs and selfies as he goes. He even shares that nihilist refrain ('Having every question answered / Isn’t gonna help at all') with a fan, ending the night on an inclusive, sweaty high.