As a pre-teen I vividly remember shredding corners in Burnout 3 as We Are Scientists’ ‘The Great Escape’ jangled behind the roar of my desperately out of control car. A decade later, as I queued in characteristic Bristol drizzle to see the band perform the second major gig of their UK tour, I wondered if they had ever become more than a video game’s backing track, or had simply faded into the traffic.
My concerns soon disappeared. On this side of the pond to promote their latest release, Helter Seltzer, We Are Scientists sure know how to put on a show. From the headbanging opening of fan favourite ‘This Scene Is Dead’ to the pseudo-electro chimes of ‘Too Late’, the three men sharing the stage held the low-ceilinged Bierkeller enraptured.
Frontman Keith Murray and bassist Chris Cain played a short acoustic set in Bristol’s Rise record shop earlier that day, during which they asked for “any requests – so long as they’re ‘The Great Escape’…” This throwaway quip had scared me at the time – were We Are Scientists a one-trick indie rock pony? Far from it. Besides new material, there’s the strong four album back catalogue to dig through, littered with big-chorus bangers seemingly designed to set small venues like the Bierkeller alight. The opening riff of ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’ was almost drowned out by the roar that greeted its arrival, while the anthemic ‘After Hours’ brought with it arm-waving and moshing in equal measure.
Murray and Cain kept the audience laughing with quickfire asides between songs, but this was in no way an apology for, or an attempt to cover up any musical shortcomings. In fact I was glad of the brief interludes from the evening’s break-neck freneticism.