Last Night: We Are Scientists, the Blood Arm at Detroit Bar

Last Night: We Are Scientists, the Blood Arm at Detroit Bar
Andrew Youssef

Last Night: We Are Scientists, the Blood Arm at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa, May 31, 2009.

Better than: Staying home and watching the MTV Movie Awards--even though Akiva Schaffer, the Lonely Island mate of host Andy Samberg who popped up on the award show's "Doubt for Sega Genesis" sketch, has directed four WAS videos. (Insert obligatory Bruno/Eminem incident comment here.)

Most appropriate filler: Return or the Jedi playing on the Detroit monitors before the geek-chic We Are Scientists took the stage.

Let's get the obvious out of the way: We Are Scientists sounded good, they played a mix of tunes primarily from With Love and Squalor and Brain Thrust Mastery. That part was all fine and dandy. They had their own sound guy, Zane (more on him later!), and everything came across really well during the 80 minutes they played. The place was packed. Etc., etc.

But the most notable part of a We Are Scientists (originally from SoCal but now based in Brooklyn) show isn't the music, no matter how fun their tunes are--it's the on-stage banter between singer/guitarist Keith Murray and bassist Chris Cain. They're funny, smart guys (check out their Web site and their reviews of random things and concepts) and it's always a treat to hear what they come up with. So here are some highlights.

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"Hey Zane, can you talk to me about Santa Claus and the reality of the situation?" - Keith, when killing time before "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt" as the levels were adjusted.

"This crowd is determined to make an asshole out of me." - Keith, after the crowd starting chanting for Zane, something he said would never happen.

"He's like a Golden Retriever. Really stupid and friendly." Keith (perhaps Chris--they're both so clever!), again talking about Zane, when relating a story of Zane talking to a concessions worker for an inappropriately long amount of time before a screening this past weekend of Drag Me to Hell.

"In the medium-term, is there any way to get a couple of drinks up here?" Chris, from the stage. "Those look like water though," he said, after some liquids are about to be brought to him. "This is a 21 and over show, we don't need to pretend there's anything special about water."

"You guys doing alright? That's not just idle banter. If something's wrong, let us know and we'll fix it." Keith, who then heard someone requesting him to take off his vest. "Do you want me to take off this vest because you want to see what's underneath, or because you hate it? This vest never comes off. I bathe in this vest!"

"Why do you think we don't still live in oceans? Towels, friend." Chris, and it's probably better not to provide any context for that one.

Before "Lethal Enforcer," Keith claimed that Chris can only get turned on while listening to that song. "As a stroke of irony and total tragedy," explained Chris, "I am always playing when this song is on. I have never felt human touch. I've heard it's overrated."

During the encore: "Our rule of thumb with encores," disclosed Chris, "is that we wait until half the room has gone home. Now we have you all to ourselves."

Maybe you had to be there.

Opening act the Blood Arm (from LA but big in the UK where they've toured with Maxïmo Park) also had a few snappy lines ("She's a cancer. The star sign, not the disease," said singer Nathaniel Fregos when introducing keyboard player Dyan Valdés). Franz Ferdinand have called them their favorite band, and hearing them do songs like "Suspicious Character" gave the crowd an idea of what those Scottish dudes are talking about.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I would totally buy a Having Fun with Elvis on Stage-esque record from We Are Scientists.

Random Detail: Keith Murray risked deadly head injury (low ceilings at Detroit!) by getting up on the bar and singing during "Textbook." Here's a rather poorly lit Twitpic documenting the event.

By the Way: The Blood Arm are opening up for Art Brut at the Echo on June 19. 

We Are Scientists set list:
"Let's See It"
"Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt"
not sure--any super-fans out there that can help out?
"This Scene Is Dead"
"After Hours"
"Can't Lose"
"It's a Hit"
"Cash Cow"
"Lethal Enforcer"
"The Great Escape"

"Lousy Reputation"
"Ram It Home"

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