Thank You Scientist are not a group I expected to grace The Joiners. A combination of geography and their particular sound led me to anticipate a niche American audience; the New Jersey 7-piece do not seem the type to hit British grassroot venues. Needless to say, I was excited to see the band play in Southampton — I snatched up a ticket for their February 18th show as soon as I saw it go live, not knowing back then that it would be the last live music I’d experience for several months.
The band’s show was about as twisting and mental as their studio material. Through jazz pastiche, cascading horn sections and overdriven guitar solos, the group tackled their sometimes confusing genre-fusion with alarming precision and band synchronicity. 8-minute song after 8-minute song avoided being exhausting thanks to their power as an ensemble. Easily, the band’s greatest asset is this on-stage chemistry. All instrumentalists remained firmly in the pocket, even through sections of frenzied rhythm. Between Faye Fadem’s incredibly tight drumming, and soaring sax and trumpet from Sam Greenfield and Joe Gullace respectively, many of the songs’ exciting harmonic stabs landed perfectly. It was difficult not to bob my head.
Due to some similar song structure and length, the band ran the risk of presenting a set that was sonically numbing. But from the shuffly groove of intro ‘Wrinkle’ to the more overt chorus of ‘FXMLDR’ (the title a nod to the X-Files’ Fox Mulder), to the deranged mariachi of ‘Blood on the Radio’, the group trickled a variety of ideas through their setlist just wide enough to maintain a relative feeling of freshness. The venue was filled-out, and the crowd was hot. Frontman and vocalist Salvatore Marrano worked the room and built good audience banter between songs, and mostly maintained on-stage energy and momentum during the many instrumental passages. It was nice to see an outfit with members so in-tune with one another.
After close to 80 minutes, the concert wrapped-up with an authoritative encore and time to spare. As the band wished the crowd a good night, an invested and vocal audience unsuccessfully protested their leave. With grassroots venues’ struggling this year due to virus restrictions, it’s more important than ever to remember pre-COVID gigging. February really feels an eternity ago.
You can listen to Thank You Scientist below, or contribute to The Joiners’ fundraiser here.