A great little indie-rock band with a strange name that had a cello-playing drummer last year. I had a chance to talk to Jeffrey O’Brien about both. The cello thing, he explained, was for their album Sink or Swim, released in 2012. Those parts are otherwise covered by guest guitarists as needed at live shows. Consider that East of Sweden is really the barest minimum of what is required to make a rock band: a trio consisting of a drummer, with Eric Sellers on guitar and vocals, and a ripping bass player named Andrew Loc. That band name, O’Brien told the Reader, had nothing to do with his own Swedish roots. Rather, East of Sweden could be a play on East of Eden, the John Steinbeck–authored classic. Eric Sellers actually owned a copy, and O’Brien liked the book when he was still in college for what he called “the depravity and the self-destruction” of it. Perfect.
But if your band has little in the way of stage presence and the members dress like they just got off work at Whole Foods, that’s two strikes. At the very least, said band had better generate some damned compelling music — and this is where East of Sweden delivers the goods. Post-punk, bordering on harder alt-rock, and with a flair for odd rhythms and out-of-the-ordinary pattern changes. In the absence of support guitarists, the band plays convincingly to supplemental tracks, and they make it work. Loc and percussion are as one, and Sellers, however variable his vocal performances are, can chop it out as a guitar player. Started in 2010, the band has a strict DIY theme. For example, they recycled paper shopping bags to make covers for their demo CD. For whatever reasons, O’Brien the drummer has been out of East of Sweden for a while; although not named as a permanent member, Eric Brozgold drums in his place.
Animal Steel, the Nformals, and Machines Learning also perform.
East of Sweden: Soda Bar, Thursday, April 18, 8:30 p.m. 619-255-7224. $5.