West By Swan and friends play pop that really pops
Maybe it was a good thing West By Swan was on the road. The members loaded a noticeably scaled-back stack of speakers into the cozy confines of Café Coda last Friday—it saves space in the van and it definitely saves eardrums.
But the notoriously loud WBS was still plenty powerful, playing through a set of songs from the band’s 2006 self-titled debut as well as from its forthcoming disc.
Per usual, the dual guitar attack of the brothers Greenfield, Dan and Dave, propelled West By Swan’s wall of sound. The bearded brethren inexplicably fit together jagged guitar lines, occasionally shooting glances in the other’s directions, while bassist Conrad Nystrom’s bass hummed warmly in its own little world. And the pop of drummer Daniel Taylor’s snare cut through even the noisiest parts. Guess you can’t turn down a drum.
The familiar songs were there, but the most satisfying number was the finale, the as-yet-to-be-released “Utilitarianism.” It has the signature WBS multiple parts, including a short dance-y section that brilliantly enters and vanishes before the ears fall too in love with it, and ending with what sounds like a riff right out of Metallica’s … And Justice For All sessions. A compliment, indeed.
West By Swan was actually passing through its hometown on the way to gigs in Eureka and Sacto, where the band shared the stage with the equally noisy Calling All Monsters. The San Francisco four-piece keeps its rock a little more to the point, marrying big riffs and hooks, and vocalist/ guitarist Matthew Troy employs the same charm in his lyrics as he did with his former band Track Star. It’s pop music cranked up to 10 … maybe 11. Calling All Monsters proved to be a perfect transition from openers The Friendly Skies, the Portland duo that managed to make instrumentals catchy. By the time West By Swan hit the stage, the modest crowd was plenty lubed … and if it was too loud, you were probably too sober.