We Are Scientists @ Biltmore -- 07/27/10

Four years. That is how long it has been since We Are Scientists played Vancouver. The Biltmore wasn't even doing shows then! The band, fresh off their wildly successful debut album was in town three times that year, but had not been back since... until last night, for a show at the Biltmore.

First up, though, was Vancouver band Supercassette -- which is a great name. They hit the stage six large, starting out with an instrumental song, very indie-dance-pop with twinges of electronica. They had a fantastic energy, and were pretty damn good, though at times the lead singer was a bit to... over the top in his yelling. Not bad, per se, and not constantly, but questionable at times. But the thing that impressed me most of their set was the dummer. He was fucking intense. Playing on somewhat of a minimalistic kit, he not only broke drum sticks, but managed to break a cymbal in their seond song, playing the rest of the set with it severely cracked. I think I would be interested in checking them out again, especially if part of a good bill.

Up next was Rewards, one of those one-guy-with-a-band-name deals. Aaron Pfenning came out alone with his guitar (and giant pedal boards) but was backed with some audio trickery, in the form of recorded backing instruments. He seemed a bit shy when talking, but when he was playing, he sauntered and strut around the stage, posing for pictures, sitting on the monitors and generally owning the stage. He also employed a few vocal effects, giving some of the songs a bit of an ethereal quality. Or an autotuned quality. Or a Bowie-esque quality. For the last song, the three members of We Are Scientists came out to join him, and the song they played sounded really familiar, but I can't quite put my finger on if it was a cover, if I had heard it before, or if I was just imagining things.
I wish I had been able to pick up an album or something, and I really hope he wasn't serious when he said he may not be back due to the pain in the ass border crossing, because I would be very interested in seeing him live again.

Finally, it was time for We Are Scientists. Back in 06, they were one of my favourite live bands, but four years is a long time, so I wasn't sure if maybe something had changed (well, they had, as all shows I had seen was with the original drummer) and while I was certainly excited, I was also a little wary going in. But it tuns out, I was worrying for nothing; they were as energetic as ever, and still damn funny with the random stage banter. Did you know they couldn't have a fog machine since Vancouver banned them in 1892, due to the werewolf problem? True story. Their banter never seemed forced or rehearsed either, like some bands tend to be, but rather just a couple friends trying to make each other laugh. But their comedic values are just one of the reason they are great live. Brimming with vigor, they started the set ith the new single "Nice Guys" and played for a little over an hour of material spanning all three albums. And the crowd was just going nuts the whole time. People hardly stopped dancing, and most of the songs were sung along to, but "The Great Escape" was definitely the most insane as everyone joined in.
After ending the set with "After Hours", they came back for one more song, "Cash Cow", and promised they would be back soon. A couple of times, especially near the end, they seemed visibly appreciative (and perhaps a little taken aback) by the crowd, so hopefully we convinced them to not wait another four years for a show.