Live Review: Los Goutos at Toad in Cambridge, MA

Material: Americana takes an uncommon turn with this six-piece ensemble that incorporates elements of folk, rock, country, Latin rhythms, Cajun swamp grooves and more into a panoptic bouillabaisse.

As funny as they are emotive, songs cover everything from drinking woes to the Mexican legend of the mythical chupacabra. They even throw down a sarcastic holiday ditty or two that wouldn’t sound out of place at Jack Sparrow’s Christmas party.

Musicianship: A veritable Grand Ole Opry with a modern sense of humor, Los Goutos employ a diverse range of instruments, including everything from accordion to washboard. Still, they blend smoother than a 40-year whiskey, distilling an intoxicating blend that’s as unified as it is subtly complex. Yet as comfortable
as they may be strumming, they’re equally at home busting out an a cappella number.

Performance: The first of the evening’s two sets running an hour, the band came bearing significant material, indicating a seriousness of purpose. Sadly, their artistry is compromised by unwieldy complexity, particularly when shoehorned onto a miniscule stage.

On the plus side, they’ve always got something or someone worth watching. More branding would help, but there’s not much room left for anything else.

Summary: Los Goutos present a masterful sound that’s prettier than a babbling brook and sophisticated to boot. Their bulkiness is a double-edged sword—while encumbered by the technical aspects of their operation, the ability to switch instruments and explore alternate configurations adds a layer of excitement that obviates the need for showy antics.

Different lead singers, for instance, cast their style in a whole new light. While unlikely to ever sell out arenas, they’ve carved a niche that will excite a certain strain of discriminating fan.

The Players: Bruce Bartone, guitars, bass, vocals; Mike Eigen, vocals, percussion, acoustic guitar, clarinet, ukulele; Shamus Feeney, bass, guitars, percussion, vocals; Chris Gleason, vocals, mandolin, tenor banjo, acoustic guitar, percussion; Paul Stewart, vocals, accordion, guitars, harmonica; Jakub Trasak, fiddle.

Photo by Apple Kaufmann

Venue: Toad
City: Cambridge, MA
Contact: losgoutos@gmail.com
Web: losgoutos.com