Thank You Scientist is a band that is impossible to pin down. On the one hand they kind of sound like an orchestra on meth, yet on the other they incorporate some beautiful guitar driven melodies into their music. In speaking to songwriter-in-chief and the driving force of the band, guitarist Tom Monda, he summed it up perfectly when he told me he ‘didn’t try to fit in or do anything other than what he liked’. This is clearly evident in his live music, as the band effortlessly blends elements of Jazz and metal in a kind of organized chaos.
However, in the buildup to the main act, we got a taste of Exeter University’s own Noise Complex! They are a pop-rock 5 piece and blended classic guitar-driven chord progressions with piano nicely. The charismatic frontman James Barruol did well to get the crowd involved, and my personal favourite was the second song, called Upside Down, a slower number with a distinguishable intro riff that carried the song. A solid opening band, #bleedgreen.
this unlikely line up was funky, energetic and like nothing I’ve ever heard
The second band, with the rogue-ish name Cybernetic Witch Cult, were heavy and distortion-driven. In keeping with the night’s theme of uncategorizable musicianship, a quick google search labelled them Stoner Doom Rock. Nonetheless, I highly enjoyed their set, as their Mastodon-esque sound and guitar drop tuning sounded awesome through Cavern’s smoke and laser set. Singing about various things from Druids to outer space, it was interesting and claustrophobic (but in a good way).
When Thank You Scientist took to the stage, I had no idea what to expect, and needless to say I was blown away. To paint you a picture, the 7-piece involves a drummer, bassist, guitarist, singer, violinist, saxophonist and trumpet player. I know right? What on earth. Yet this unlikely line up was funky, energetic and like nothing I’ve ever heard. As they opened with ‘Feed the Horses’ from their first album Maps of Non-Existent Places, I realised that technically this band was off the charts. The style bounces back and forth from one time signature to another, with complex structures eventually fading into an orchestral piece. The singer crooned over the top, until this calm section erupted back into a guitar driven rock piece. Up next was ‘Caverns’, in which my personal highlight, aside from the melodic chorus, was the dance moves of enthusiastic lead singer Salvatore Marrano. His robot moves were perfectly in time with the music, as he seemed to conduct the crowd’s movement, and ended with a dab mid song. This is symptomatic of the entire band, who play with so much energy and enjoyment, it really is a joy to see.
Overall, each song is so varied, but flows seamlessly from one section to the next, going from melodic slow rhythms to faster paced sections and back again. Also, the instruments compliment each other perfectly. This was especially evident in Caverns (my personal favourite), but also during the verse and bridge of crowd-favourite My Famed Disappearing Act. This was incredible, especially as I’d never seen a headbanging violinist before, so that was a treat. What was also cool was that Salvatore ignored the 10:30pm cut-off to deliver this last song to his fans, and then invited us all to come chat with them afterwards. Lovely people, and I can’t recommend their music enough.
This was my first time to cavern, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a small and intimate venue, with a friendly atmosphere inviting anything from your classic headbanging Jack Sparrow lookalikes to guys rocking the middle class dad look. It really gives you the opportunity to see a band up close and personal, and Thank You Scientist are certainly something special.