by Samuel Hernandez
There’s both love and hate for West Coast bands on the East Coast. Yes, they’re awesome and continue to play to that background of getting to the beach on a weekday, but you’ll probably never get to see them perform live in your backyard. It’s rare that the West Coast band will play in the small dive bar where you catch all your local favorites, the eerie green glow illuminated their drum head, and a large grotesque biker gang graffiti thrown up on the wall. Oakland based Trails and Ways swung by New York City for two performances, one at the renowned Mercury Lounge and the other at the graffiti on the way to Palisades in Bushwick.
Fresh off the release of their first album, Pathology, Trails and Ways make catchy dance tunes that make your head spin with the three languages they’re sung in. There is a political exasperation told through the lens of long-lost lovers, feeling displaced in your hometown, or just seeking the right words to be understood coursing through the entire album. Of course the intimacy live is notched up, and when the stage is as low to the ground as it is at Palisades, you can swing and sway along with band members as long as you remember it’s not a good idea to reach out and touch them.
The dream pop works in the tight space. “Say You Will” brought the funk elements out, inducing the crowd into a good sway and jive. Trails and Ways have played living rooms before as part of the Sofar Sounds series, so getting this close to an audience doesn’t deter them from launching into the hits from the album. The band is close, each lyric a traded back and forth secret, which is compounded by the fact that if you don’t know Portuguese some songs are even more personally kept for the band. Song “Terezinha,” now a slow jam ballad sung in Portuguese, started out as “Tereza,” a slightly faster folk tune sung in Spanish.
Take your chances. Go see bands in shady little bars. Especially if those bands are from across the country.