Mammal Dap and Shira Elias groove - photo by Kelly D
Mammal Dap and Shira Elias groove - photo by Kelly D

Mammal Dap ft. Shira Elias with Makadi Thunder Road, Somerville, MA February 17, 2018
Story and photos by Kelly D
Video by John Doherty

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Mammal Dap (and, by extension, its opening act Makadi) now has the dubious distinction of being a “Band Kelly D is Willing to Die to See.” . . . Such was the case on a snowy, icy Saturday evening traversing from Western Mass to Somerville and back again. My mission? To bring a couple of my besties (one being my sister) to experience the magic that I witnessed two days previous- local heroes Mammal Dap, plus Shira Elias of Brooklyn’s Turkuaz, paying tribute to alt-rock legend Beck.

Check out my review of the first night of Mammal Dap’s Beck tribute at the Acoustic HERE.

After circling the neighborhood a few times to find parking (all the while fretting that we had missed the start of the Dap’s set), we strode into Thunder Road (my first time there) to find that Makadi and his band were still onstage. Their combo of hip-hop and soul reminded me strongly of Northampton’s Alchemystics. I’d love to catch a full set of theirs soon. Another half hour passed and then it was time for the quartet plus Shira to take the stage. Like Thursday’s show, the guys were dressed in black skinny ties and white button-downs, paying homage to Beck’s stylish minimalism. Shira was rocking an all-black ensemble, complete with a suit jacket and a shirt featuring a trompe l’oeil plunging neckline, ooh la la.

I was intrigued to see how their dynamic was after two nights had passed of them performing together and I was not disappointed. The setlist was nearly the same and knowing that gave me a chance to focus less on the excitement I felt at their first show in Bridgeport and more on the people onstage making the musical magic happen. “Nicotine and Gravy,” from personal favorite Midnite Vultures, became an extended jam with keyboardist Zack Cross on backup vocals. Beck’s jazzy hit “Tropicalia” saw Shira bust out maracas and a tambourine for extra effect.

The next song, the bouncy-yet-creepy “Girl” from Guero, seemed like an excuse for Zack (I’ll use his first name cuz hey, we’re pals) to let loose on his synths.

Guitarist Killian Karlsson took the opportunity in “The New Pollution” to wail an extended solo on his axe. The tune, from Beck’s 1996 breakthrough Odelay, features a sample from tenor saxophonist Joe Thomas’s “Venus.”

As the members of Mammal Dap took great pains to faithfully recreate Beck’s vast catalog of inspirations, it was no surprise that the trademark hook blared out into our ears from a sample triggered by Zack’s keyboard. (Reed Sutherland, the quietly kickass bass player, even posted a video of himself on Mammal Dap’s Facebook page, playing “alongside” a James Gadson clip from 1972, providing the rhythm section to “Paper Tiger.”) When it was done, Shira referenced the legend, addressing the crowd- “Joe Thomas. He’s here. He’s here in spirit.” The music geekery is strong in this group. After another fantastic get-down of “Colors,” Shira asked the crowd if they had any requests. Several people yelled out

“‘Debra’!” – man, that song is popular! I asked the guys in the band afterwards why the track from Midnite Vultures has endured as a cult favorite and while we didn’t have any definitive answers, it was heartening to see the goofy-yet-sexy track get shown a LOT of love. At the time, however, Shira just smirked enigmatically and the band fired up “Earthquake Weather” instead. The night was nearing its end. However, while that fact was bumming me out, it also meant some of the most fun songs were on tap: “Loser” (drummer Colin Jalbert once again taking over lead vocals and frankly CRUSHING IT), “Mixed Bizness,” “Where It’s At” (Zack on vox with his mini megaphone, similarly melting faces), and the exuberant “Sexx Laws.” I mean, it’ll never not be a delight to sing and dance to these lyrics:

Can’t you hear those cavalry drums Hijacking your equilibrium Midnight hags in the mausoleum Where the pixilated doctors moan Carnivores in the Kowloon night Breathing freon by the candlelight Coquettes bitch slap you so polite Till you thank them for the tea and sympathy

Then, of course, with a loud chorus of “‘DEBRA’!!!” the band and Shira ended the night with the sordid tale a goober lusting after two sisters, Jenny and Debra. As a silly inside joke, my sister and I often change the character names to “Kelly” and “Becca” when we listen to it. It was a delight to groove to the song with her and belt out the modified lyrics. Overall, I was psyched to see how the band grew tighter over just two days and two performances. Beck’s music may lean on the more pop-rock side, but that does not mean it’s easy to recreate. As a longtime fan of both Mammal Dap and Beck, I was so pleased to see this ambitious project come to successful fruition. (I was less pleased, however, when the drive home turned into a “fishtailing/full-on sliding sideways on Route 2, slightly better conditions on the Pike, taking 4.5 hours to get back to Western Mass” nightmare.) Worth it, though? You better believe it.


    1. Devils Haircut
    1. Think I’m in Love
    1. Nicotine and Gravy (with Zack Cross on backup vox)
    1. Paper Tiger
    1. Tropicalia
    1. Girl
    1. The New Pollution
    1. Colors
    1. Earthquake Weather
    1. Chemtrails
    1. Loser (with Colin Jalbert on vox)
    1. Mixed Bizness
    1. Where It’s At (with Zack Cross on vox)
    1. Sexx Laws



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Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.