The Musical Stylings of Celebrity Offspring

hen Gus + Scout, the lo-fi, quasi-country buzz band and celebrity scion super-duo, began their set at Mercury Lounge Monday evening, it was tough not to notice the boldfaced offspring in the front row. Equally salient was the surplus of concertgoers in what appears to have become the official uniform of Los Angeles transplants: ripped, floral dresses; vintage T-shirts and black bras; backward caps and flannel shirts. They looked young. They looked happy. Surprisingly, they knew all the words.
"That was a first," said Scout LaRue Willis the next day, sounding giddy over the phone. "We've developed a following."
To get this out of the way: Ms. Willis, the band's vocalist, is also the 21-year-old daughter of actors Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. Gus Wenner, the band's songwriter and guitarist, is also Edward Augustus Wenner, the 23-year-old son of Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone magazine. Ms. Willis's sisters—Talullah and Rumer Willis—attended the concert. So did Mr. Wenner's brother Theo Wenner, a photographer who's also reportedly dating the actress Liv Tyler. The band formed at Brown University, where its members studied (Mr. Wenner graduated in the spring; Ms. Willis will be a senior in a few weeks).
But for all those high-profile connections, their sound is decidedly unglamorous. It has more in common with Fiona Apple or Mirah than the Rolling Stones or the Strokes. The band lists Etta James and Neil Hagerty as their influences.
"I'm a little over L.A.," sighed Ms. Willis, who hails from Beverly Hills. "It stresses me out. In New York, people are free to explore. You can live more publicly. In L.A., people are hiding in their cars all the time." More to-the-point: "I didn't apply to any schools on the West Coast," she said.
Of course, it can be tough to shake the "celebrity kid" label: the publicist introduced a reporter as a writer for Rolling Stone, before embarrassedly correcting herself. But the band has developed a fan-base over-the-border in Canada, where they recently road-tripped and toured. And if Monday's performance was any indication, they're developing a tightknit fan-base of young New Yorkers and Angelenos, too.
"People began mouthing words in Canada," Mr. Wenner recalled. "And it felt like we were being taken seriously."
The duo has developed a ritual: Before a show, they run around the block a few times. Before a recent show in Canada, Ms. Willis got sick after her jog. "It was my Eminem/'8 Mile' moment," she said. "I get anxious." Mr. Wenner recalled the simple pleasures of living on the road and waking up too early to eat breakfast at a decent diner. "We ate at these horrible restaurants and had fries with gravy and cheese," he said of the Canadian staple known as poutine. "And now I never want to eat that again."
Gus + Scout plan to hit Montauk for more shows next week. Ms. Willis will return to school, and the band will continue to work on new songs. "If I could do this for the rest of my life I'd be over the moon," Ms. Willis said. "I'm just going to keep writing songs and we'll keep playing music."
Oh, right: the music. It has a gentle, solemn quality. But will it speak for itself at some point? They hope so. "We're going to be as true to ourselves as we can be right now," said Mr. Wenner. How would he describe their new songs? "Awesome."