Winter 2019-2020 Concert Reviews: Mapache, Allah-Las, and Beach Fossils

I’m still catching up on a few shows I saw in late 2019 and early 2020, so in revisiting these I’m hoping to touch on what made them interesting or not so much.

Mapache came first as an opener for Allah-Las. It was one of those $15 midweek shows, so pretty hard to resist. We actually went to the show to see Mapache, really. If you don’t know them, and I’m sure many don’t, they are a duo of dueling guitarists named Sam and Clay out of Glendale, California. Their EP, “Lonesome LA Cowboy” captures them pretty well in a nutshell. What makes these guys special are their harmonies and complimentary playing.

This captures the Mapache sound very well, if you’re curious.

They actually many times play their acoustic guitars (strictly acoustic) in a syncopated fashion, which creates these two layers of sound on top of the vocals that forms a hefty and diverse rhythm to most of their songs. Vocally, they aren’t the most amazing voices I’ve ever heard, but they have an incredibly raw sound that just seems authentic. But when they sing together, the magic happens. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but they can carry a tune so well, and it’s a refreshing sound with the raw vocals and southwestern-style of guitar plucking that clearly brings in Spanish influences. I would almost describe it as an innocence that these dudes have onstage that ends up blowing you away with their talented guitar playing, because you aren’t expecting it. It’s a textured, melodic sound that is unique in today’s alternative scene, and it reminded me of flamenco music from Spain. Lots of sounds for two guitars and no backup instrumentals. My favorites by them are Like a Stone, In the Morning Light, Aquellos Ojos Verdes, and Lonesome LA Cowboy. Fun fact: Mapache in Spanish is actually raccoon.

We said hi to Clay after the show who was smoking outside with his buddy, and you could instantly tell he was a chill guy. Super nice and quiet. I will be looking for these fellas anytime they come to town, and you should too. I wouldn’t be surprised if they blow up soon… 10/10

Allah-Las was next. All-in-all, not bad. I have been listening to some of their songs for years now (Sacred Sands, No Warewolf, etc.) which capture this surfer, west-coast vibe that really puts you at ease. Definitely makes sense why they were paired with Mapache given the similarities. Their guitar playing was a bit of a letdown in terms of skill, but the real highlight here are their melodies, which generally are carrying the song. They are very good at creating this happy and mellow sound that can make you bob your head, or feel like you’re in a Tarantino movie (if that makes any sense). Highlight of the night was No Warewolf, which highlighted the bass guitarist (who was one of the best on stage). Not much range or dynamic changes in their rhythms, which can make you feel as though many songs sound the same. But if you’re looking for some relaxing beach music, you can do much worse than these guys. 7/10.

Beach Fossils are a band my girlfriend and I have been jamming to for some time now. This was the first stop on their tour, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. One one hand, they are just starting up again after (presumably) a hiatus, which can mean it takes a few songs to warm up. But also, you get to be the first one to see what kind of sound they will be creating on this tour. Furthermore, you capture some pretty special moments at times with the band in that the sound tends to be very authentic and raw, not tuned with the practice of several shows in the tour under their belt. I remember such a thing happening with John Mayer when we saw him at his second show of his tour. They are actually a three man band comprised of Payseur on vocals / guitar, Jack Doyle on bass and Tommy Davidson on rhythm guitar. They are in many ways a model band of the indie genre in this day and age, but in a very good way.

Great song from a great album.

They capture a similarly “chill” sound as Allah-Las, but with better musical chops. Here’s a good review for you: here. It started off right, they played This Year which is Sam’s favorite and one of mine as well. Very upbeat. Their lead singer, Dustin Payseur was the star of the show. Excellent if not subtle vocals were an excellent compliment to his relatively talented guitar playing. He looks like a more indie Justin Bieber, if that means anything – in the sense he has a very unique look with the messy blonde-white hair. Similar to Allah Las, they create excellent melodies and hooks with their songs.

I was expecting something more chill, but was pleasantly surprised with the energy of BF. They showed glimpses of grunge and thrash, with a hint of blues. They sounded better at times than in studio, which was also surprising given the results of a live showing of many bands in the genre now a-days. As in, most bands with the same shtick sound much, much better in studio. I was particularly impressed with their ability to play into the crowd. Every few songs there would be a special moment where all of the band members were smiling and the front row was headbanging, hard, and crowdsurfing was common. It was very cool to see at a show where I otherwise would have expected a much more vibey, chill atmosphere. Their rendition of “Sugar”, which is already one of my favorites, was particularly excellent. It highlighted their range musically in that they have the ability to bring in a darker, surfer-style guitar that has a harder edge to it than most but still captures the relaxed sound. This was amplified by their casual dress and slow movements along the stage in between songs which gave off a relaxed attitude that I think highlights the feeling they are trying to create. Both upbeat and chill at the same time, their songs are almost dreamy and I honestly thought it wouldn’t sound as good as it did in a louder environment. But they gave off a very positive sound that puts you in a good mood, and the energy they thrust into the crowd at Paradise was infectious. Some of the highlights were “Sugar”, “Down the Line”, “This Year”, “Sleep Apnea”, and their four-song encore which brought it home.

In summary, we had a great time at this midweek show. Relaxed enough to not seem like a force for a weeknight, but fun and energetic in a way that got us dancing and bobbing our heads the whole time. 9/10.

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