I saw We Are Scientists and Art Brut at Neumos Saturday night too, and I’m having an awfully hard time comparing them. Because they’re two entirely different groups of musicians.
We Are Scientists are nerds, the sort of guys that use the word consternated and mean it, the sort of guys that you’d want to share twelve pitchers of beer with just to keep the games of Guess the Animal going. Art Brut, on the other hand, is the kind of band you want to hang out with if it’s 1978 and you’re trashing a hotel room and, well, you need someone to help you lift this mattress out the window.
They’re just two different sounds, and you can’t compare a big sound band with a small sound band without grading the rock on a curve. All I’m saying is I don’t go to see Panda and Angel expecting them to sound as big as 3 Inches of Blood.
Sorry. Meta-music-nerdery and quibbling aside (what? I’m a meta quibbler. It’s how I roll.), I have to start by wishing I’d seen more of The Spinto Band, who were sunny and cute and should really play again some night when I’m not chatting out in the front bar. After We Are Scientists let their cranky-looking tech set up they strolled onstage and started right in on “Lousy Reputation,” although I didn’t notice because Keith Murray and his adorable bangs give me heart palpitations. I have trouble listening to With Love and Squalor all the way through but live I find the band engaging and, as they promise, vaguely danceable. The last time I saw them live I fell deeply in love and begged them to come back, and they didn’t let me down. By the end of the set Chris Cain had wandered into the audience with his (wireless?) bass, and my face hurt from grinning like a fool.
They closed the set with “The Great Escape” and Ian Catskilkin turned up to play a mildly scorching guitar solo as a preview of what was to come. There’s a reason the bands play in the order they do, and We Are Scientists was the perfect appetizer for the balls-out rock that was to come.
Art Brut has already been covered here, and honestly the antics of Eddie Argos have to be seen to be truly understood. He’s magnetic and charming enough that he doesn’t even need to play an instrument, and his band is solid enough that they don’t turn themselves into a joke. They’re not performance art, although they certainly walk the line; they’re just having a really good time. The crowd was also having a really good time, and I found myself worried about the structural integrity of the floor–it was giving under the pressure and we came mighty close to getting a painful look at the basement dressing room.
In all, the combination turned into one of the best shows I’ve seen so far this year. Tomorrow I head to the Showbox for another epic pairing: Architecture in Helsinki and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.