A New Year’s Eve show is different than a regular show, both for the audience & the band. Obviously everyone’s drunker, the sets have to play past midnight, and the tickets are more expensive (even than a 12/30 show). The performances are usually one-offs, not part of a larger tour or in promotion of an album. And the bands are often – but not always – locals, turning their New Year’s Eve party into a moneymaking opportunity. Sometimes these shows are bands playing massive stages for a massive ‘event’, but other times the band is playing a smaller-than-usual venue for an intimate ‘event’, like when the hilarious We Are Scientists played New York’s Mercury Lounge (QRO venue review) to close out 2010.
First things first: We Are Scientists are one of the funniest bands in indie-rock. They’re not comedians making music (no Flight of the Conchords – QRO live review), but a ‘regular’ alt-rock band that happens to have some of the funniest stage banter out there (another? Friends of WAS, Art Brut – QRO spotlight on). Singer/guitarist Keith Murray and singer/bassist Chris Cain spar like a really funny old married couple, but also bring the crowd into it as well. They started the New Year’s Eve show by telling the crowd to tell them when it was close to midnight, though Cain had an atomic clock iPhone app (“Only three dollars!”) that got the band ‘right to within 1/10,000th of a second’ (or ‘one-quarter of an inch, if you can see sound waves’ – “And I can!” added Murray…). Three songs in, still well before the witching hour, one asked, “Guys, be straight with us – it’s 12:18 AM, isn’t it?…” And when it was less than five minutes before midnight, We Are Scientists launched into their hit, “It’s a Hit”, which ended with just enough time to do a countdown from ten to the New Year. Murray pointed out that the last song played in NYC of 2010 is the last song played of 2010 (time zones or no…), “That’s an acknowledged fact,” so We Are Scientists had the last song of 2010 – and made the crowd vow to correct anyone at the same night’s Drive-By Truckers show at the (much larger) Terminal 5 (QRO venue review) who would say that the Truckers had the last song of the year, “It doesn’t count if you started a jam five minutes before midnight & played right through!”
More directly to the crowd, Murray called out one fan up front for being, “The skittish-est mo-fo – let’s hope 2011 involves a sack being grown!” That mo-fo was then brought up on stage to dance during “Rules Don’t Stop” – he at least had sack enough to bring a lady on stage with him as well. And woe betide anyone who touched Murray’s set list… (QRO photo)
We Are Scientists shows are always high on energy, and it was only more so for New Year’s Eve. It was also a show weighted a bit more towards their earlier With Love & Squalor than later records Brain Thrust Mastery (QRO review) or Barbara (QRO review) – these were staunch WAS fans who’d loved the band since early singles like “It’s a Hit”, “Nobody Moves, Nobody Gets Hurt”, “The Great Escape”, and “Textbook”, where opener Aaron Pfenning of Rewards (QRO photos) came on stage to play guitar while Murray sang from all over the crowd. And even if the night wasn’t right for Barbara standout “Pittsburgh”, the best sad song that the band’s ever done, Brain‘s “Impatience” rocked as the first song of 2011 (with opener Bad Girlfriend partying on stage with the band) and the only song more apropos than “After Hours” was their cover of “Holiday” by Weezer (QRO live review).
It was a rather couple-y crowd (indeed, saw one couple almost get into a fight with another…) – avoiding the singles shindigs that are New Year’s Eve parties for their own special evening, and We Are Scientists is a band that appeals to both genders. With comic back-and-forth and energetic songs, We Are Scientists closed out 2010 in ever so enjoyable fashion.