On Sunday night, Theatre of Living Arts welcomed Chicano Batman for a night of psychedelic, soulful grooves. I’ve had my eye on this show for a while now, and finally seeing them live completely changed my perspective on their music. I really understand what all the hype is about, because these guys are fun, and I’m happy I had the chance to check them out in person.
New York City band The Shacks kicked off the night with an awesome, bass-heavy set. They had such a cool alternative pop/jazz sound, and the singer, Shannon Wise, sang with an amazingly ethereal and breathy voice; and that contrast from the musical soundscape had my attention immediately. What really set them apart was the electric keyboard, which almost gave them a spacey vibe. They were fun to watch, and their songs were memorable to me, which is kind of rare for an opening band. I know I’ll be streaming their song, “Orchids,” for a while.
Following The Shacks was Khruangbin (which means “Engine Fly” in Thai, I later found out), a three-piece from Texas. They’ve been described as everything from Thai Funk to Surf Soul. They were unlike anything I’ve heard in a long time, with their minimal, unearthly vocals and vibey jam-band guitar. They, too, were very bass-heavy, which was awesome to see. Chicano Batman did a great job in choosing two bands that complimented their own sound to join them on tour.
Chicano Batman is a band that I’ve heard and read a lot about, but until I saw them live, I didn’t fully grasp what all the hype was about. Their sound is so wildly unique, which makes them so much fun to watch. I don’t know of any other bands that pull influences from psychedelic soul, funk, indie, tropicalia, rock and oldies music. Decked out in matching burgundy suits, paired with a backdrop of their 2017 album, Freedom Is Free, they were really a sight to see.
The band has quite the discography to choose from, and they played most of the hit songs that I knew, putting “Black Lipstick,” a funky, synth-heavy jam, close to the beginning of the set. These guys are so happy and charismatic on stage, and they really had the whole crowd moving if they weren’t completely warmed up from the two openers. The TLA was the perfect spot for Chicano Batman – small enough to get close to and connect with the crowd, but big enough to really feel the energy move through the room.
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