We Are Scientists + Goldheart Assembly @ HMV Institute, 16th November 2010


Promising, ‘…the sexiest, bloodiest, down-and-dirtyest carnival of ecstasy since, at the latest, Roman times.’ Californian stoner/slacker trio We are Scientists certainly pulled in the Plebian punters in droves to orgy along their punishing US/UK/European ‘Barbarians Tour’.

And in the spirit of Roman allusion, one comes not to bury WAS’s retro/garage revelries but to praise them: for indeed, they are honourable men. Alas though that honour being more in the breech than the observance. Viz the smutty, running banter between guitar/vocals, Keith Murray, and David Baddiel look-alike, bassist, Chris Cain/vocals on the subject of mutual facial sex which had us begging for more: ie, more originality and decidedly more effort at humor. Still, such is the counter-culture genre where understanding Countdown is on a par with playing Snap with Noam Chomsky and drummer jokes are revered as subversive cutting edge often needing explanatory footnotes. But who cared? WAS do exactly what they say on the tin, albeit one some would consider well past its smell-by date. They blow wind to caution, slavishly swigging from old bottles and gobbing out new whines and growls with phallo-centric testosterone charged juvenilia.

And the punters, at this exquisitely refurbished and tastefully modernised HMV Institute, cried out for more, no more so than with ‘Nobody Move’ tuh, some chance! An approximation of this song would to be to have your persistent earwax problem flushed out with Harpic. Most refreshing. Likewise with ‘I don’t bite’ avalanches with a stampede of kick-drum frenzy and vocals like a JCB with bronchitis. Actually, one does warm towards this band, notwithstanding their having all the persuasive subtlety of a waterboarding session in a Viagra Falls of dude sweat.

They thrash out a simplistic, formulaic riff, bring on the call and response air-punched chorus and hail the triumph of rock’roll parody sanitized cliche. Emperor’s new clothes? Durr! It’s very essence is its absence of artifice. Incisive, cutting-edge? Nah, I’ll have a mallet load of decibels in the goolies, thanks mate. The mosh-pit grinds; Murray does a crowd surf, everybody’s happy. No question they give value for money with their vein-stripping, riff addictive, predictability and kick-drum carnage as Murray pirouettes and pogos about stage in his, ‘Like totally cosmetic skull cap’ and artery, sqeezingly tight, drainpipe trousers, mercifully (for some perhaps disappointingly) absent of de rigueur very Metal cod-piece bulge. The main set ends with, ‘After Hours’, a surprisingly engaging hug-along invitation to join the band for drink or twelve after the gig and closes with a apocalyptic Led Zep riffathon.

Set list: (not in order, pulled from earlier gig) nice guys, tonight, I don’t, bite, nobody move, let’s see it, this scene is dead ,rules don’t stop, inaction, the great escape, chick lit, should learn, textbook, it’s a hit, central ac, jack & ginger, after hours, dinosaurs.

Now then, five piece support band, Goldheart Assembly, from London are an altogether different, enigmatic kettle of slippery fish. Swimming in 1968 West Coast currents of QuickSilver, soft acid rock, proto New Wave energy and counterpoint, harmonic shifting time signatures they conjure up all manner of expectations and delightful eccentricities. James Dale’s distinctive bass melodic riffs and lead vocals and co-harmonies with guitarist Tom Hastings are distinguishing signature features. The short set opens to an oil barrel apocalyptic percussion song they haven’t even titled yet. Theirs is a considered, crafted approach to songwriting drawing broad, cautious comparisons to Crowded House and the woefully under-rated Field Music. The Tex Mexyish, road song, Link Wray haunting guitar driven number ‘Last Decade’ (?) is outstanding and should have Tarantino over on the next available flight. Check out their debut single/cd ‘Wolves & Thieves’. Look forward to their next O2 support gig in late January.

Set list: ‘untitled’, Hope hung low, Last decade, Deperate arms, King of Rome, Oh really, Engraver’s daughter.

Boy/girl duo, Rewards, opened with a bring & buy sale tablecloth meandering Trance beat set that occupied fifteen minutes but didn’t fill it. Imagine being a fairground goldfish in a bowl of vaseline listening to Lloyd Cole on the waltzers. Actually, best not.

Review – John Kennedy
Photo – Katja Ogrin

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5 thoughts on “We Are Scientists + Goldheart Assembly @ HMV Institute, 16th November 2010

  1. Rewards is not a ‘boy/girl duo’…it’s Aaron Pfenning, he had a special guest for this tour. I’ve seen Rewards, and his beats, if anything, are SOMETHING like house, but definitely NOT ‘trance, as this author states.’ He plays live sometimes with full bands or different incarnations. And We Are Scientists are active work-aholics from Brooklyn not ‘stoner slackers’ from California.

  2. Dear ‘Anonymous’ odd name!

    I stand corrected on where WAS come from. Thank you for that.
    The Rewards we saw comprised two performers.
    I defer to your expertise in Rewards genre style.

    Feedback is alway welcome, John Kennedy. BrumLive prides itself on being inclusive and friendly

  3. Strange question I know but I saw it as one of his support instruments at this event and it’s the same guitar as in this photo so does anyone have any idea what it is?

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