Friday night at the Troubadour in West Hollywood was a big one for We Are Scientists, and it wasn’t just because it was frontman Keith Murray’s birthday.
Judging by a road case on the side of the stage marked “The Rentals / Moog,” there was a feeling that something magical was going to happen.
With the clock nearing midnight, Murray extinguished the blazing candles on a commemorative cake, keeping whatever he wished for to himself. But once that Moog synth came out of its case, the real treat was served up in the form of former Weezer bassist Matt Sharp, who appeared for the encore.
The pairing made sense. Sharp previously joined We Are Scientists during the 2013 Make Music Pasadena festival, pitching in on the W.A.S. track “After Hours.”Both Murray and Cain have cited the Rivers Cuomo-fronted group as an influence, and the group covered Weezer’s entire Green Album at a gig in Brooklyn back in 2011.
Oh, and last week marked the 20th anniversary of Weezer’s 1994 self-titled debut record.
As such, the makeshift “Weezer Are Scientists” dove into Weezer classics like “Susanne,” “Undone (The Sweater Song” and “Say It Ain’t So,” in addition to the Rentals’ “Friends of P.”
Things got especially chaotic during “Say It Ain’t So” with a tremendous sing-along. As Sharp wielded a beat-up bass, W.A.S. bassist Chris Cain and the guys from opening act Paws grabbed Murray’s microphone and belted out the chorus along with the sold-out crowd.
When playing their own material, We Are Scientists spanned their entire catalog.
Cuts like “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt” and “The Scene is Dead” from 2005’s With Love and Squalor made appearances, as did “After Hours” (2008’s Brain Thrust Mastery) and “I Don’t Bite” (2010’s Barbara).
But W.A.S. was also in Los Angeles to support their latest offering, TV en Français, and the trio capably did so with the driving “Dumb Luck” and plaintive “Make it Easy.”
It was obvious that Murray and Cain have been doing this for a while, as they bantered back and forth throughout the performance, giving the proceedings a familial vibe. And Murray’s frenetic attack on his Fender Telecaster yielded tasty riff after tasty riff to keep the masses moving.
Before W.A.S. rocked the Troubadour, however, Paws did a solid job warming things up. The Scottish threesome boasted unrelenting energy that belied the fact that they were feeling a little beat up by their 9 p.m. start time.
“We’re tired, we got the shit kicked out of us by waves in Huntington Beach today. Scottish guys can’t surf,” frontman Philip Taylor joked.
The band recently released their sophomore full-length album Youth Culture Forever, and they ran through several of their hard-edged surf punk tracks.
Drummer Josh Swinney pounded away at his minimalist kit with all of his might, while basist Ryan Drever and Taylor bounced around with delight.
At the end of the evening, there was a lot to celebrate – two new albums, a big anniversary of an old album and a birthday. We Are Scientists sure planned one heck of a party.