Chicano Batman recently packed their eclectic ensemble into NPR’s office for a Tiny Desk concert full of suave, smooth and spirited grooves. As per usual of the Californian four-piece, the dapper band was dressed to the nines as they performed three songs, including “Freedom Is Free,” “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm,)” and “Jealousy.” Continue reading →
After playing a packed show at the BB&T Pavilion last night as part of XPoNential Festival’s day two headliners, Chicano Batman returned to Camden this morning, this time to open day three of the fest with an afternoon performance at the Jerseyarts.com Marina Stage in Wiggins Park. The venue faired well, having been submerged the following early evening by surprise flash thunderstorms. With a dry ground and sun shining bright overhead, the band got the crowd ready for the final day of stellar live music. Continue reading →
Drawing on 60s and early 70s bossa, and samba, cumbia, psychedelia, and soul, Los Angeles four-piece Chicano Batman plays Underground Arts tonight. The retro-leaning Latin rockers released Cycles of Existential Rhyme last year, and will be joined by Las Cafeteras at tonight’s show. Tickets and information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Read The Key’s interview with Chicano Batman here, and listen to “She Lives on My Block” below. Continue reading →
Designed by Cesar Chavez and his brother Richard in 1962, the logo of the United Farm Workers became a potent symbol for the burgeoning Chicano rights movement, taking the eagle symbol from the Mexican flag and patterning its stairstep wings after an inverted Aztec pyramid. A little less than fifty years later, a singer, guitarist, and organist in East L.A. made a few slight alterations to that logo, bringing it to a sharp point at the bottom and replacing the eagle’s head with a familiar pointy-eared bat’s head, bringing together the un-parallel worlds of the UFW and DC Comics.
The new symbol stands for Chicano Batman, and if the Los Angeles four-piece doesn’t exactly fight for farm workers’ rights or battle criminals by night, their throwback blend of R&B, Tropicália and psychedelia does provide its own kind of uplift. “The idea of it is that underrepresented people can be superheroes in their own right,” says guitarist Carlos Arevalo. “There’s people out here in L.A. that are working hard every day to provide for their family, and that’s a superhero to us.”
The name of the band, which will perform at Fleisher Art Memorial on Monday, came from another sketch by frontman Bardo Martinez, this one depicting the superhero himself. “Bardo was at a party one day doodling,” recalls Arevalo, “and he drew a Latino Batman character with a little mustache, where the cape and mask was actually a flannel shirt like you would see a cholo in L.A. wear, and he called it Chicano Batman.”
The name initially became a pseudonym for Martinez’s solo work, but he soon gathered bassist Eduardo Arenas and drummer Gabriel Villa to form an actual band, releasing their self-titled debut in 2009. Arevalo joined two years later to fill out the band’s sound and allow Martinez to devote his attention to the organ.
That instrumentation is key to capturing the retro sound that Martinez envisioned for Chicano Batman. The music on the band’s recently-released second full-length album. Cycles of Existential Rhyme, combine the influences of American soul artists like Brenton Wood and the Delfonics with Latin-American soul groups of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, including Los Angeles Negros and Los Pasteles Verdes; and the Tropicália sound of Brazilian artists like Caetano Veloso and Os Mutantes.