Oakland's Trails and Ways delivered a homecoming show of sorts last Friday at New Parish. The Berkeley grads played several Bay Area shows this spring and summer before embarking on an extensive national tour and dropping their new Trilingual EP this fall. Friday's show marked their first Oakland show since Trilingual and it didn't take long to prove those in attendance have been enjoying the release.
Opener Waterstrider made for an excellent surprise, as I was not familiar with them. Given Trails and Ways' background, I'm assuming they met Waterstrider in the same Berkeley co-op circles. Waterstrider featured an excellent set of layered, polyrhythmic jams. While congas might not always work beyond one or two songs, I can't imagine enjoying Waterstrider's set without Brijean Murphy's conga peppering throughout. I felt some definite Yeasayer vibes (compare "Constellation" below with Yeasayer's "2080") paired with Latin flavors. Vampire Weekend's afro-pop might be a reference point. But fellow West coasters Gardens & Villa seem more similar. Props to Nate Salman for steady vocals throughout their performance.
The New Parish was filled both downstairs and up by the time Trails & Ways took over. Given that the band essentially started as a limited bedroom project in Bushrod, it was incredible to see how they've developed. Certainly, those hours out on the road helped them hone the details of their nuanced tracks. But what stood out to me was a newfound intensity in the live setting. Most notably, drummer Ian Quirk's lively, stand-up percussion work signaled how far the band has progressed. They worked their way through Trilingual tracks, and when "Nunca" arrived, it was apparent that track's 141,000+ YouTube plays probably aren't just the band, as about everyone on the floor seemed to know the words. Check out Trails and Ways' new cover of "Lost" by Frank Ocean and stay tuned for any more upcoming tour dates, we'll cue you in.