Chicano-born, genre-defying rock band Batman brings the kind of performance that makes you want to shake your ass, but also put your head on someone’s shoulder.
Chicano Batman performing at Stubb’s for the 2021 Levitation Festival. (Photo by David Brendan Hall)
Angelica Garcia and Crumb opened Thursday night’s levitation procedure at Stubb’s with less noise than a mesmerizing snare brush. named album. The crowd, which had been totally frozen by the autumnal weather and the cold, psychedelic vibes of Crumb, warmed up as the light patterns of the shag carpet melted into funky synth chords and powerful guitar riffs. . Lead singer Bardo Martinez floats across the stage whipping his gorgeous mop to keep time, confirming my suspicions that the original band likely wouldn’t have stuck together for almost 14 years had they gone bald.
On track three, “Freedom is Free,” guitarist Carlos Arevalo rips heartbreaking chords and the band hits its honed groove with Eduardo Arenas slapping the bass wildly as time seems to fade as if we’re actually ingesting the mushroom spores in the backlight of the group. Chicano Batman is one of those bands that works like a real ensemble, after a decade and a half of practicing, touring and growing together, they juggle perfectly. At any time, the guitarist can launch into a solo that pairs perfectly with pitched percussion and complex harmonies.
The fourth track “Dark Star” hammered us with gothic punk and flashing lights before abruptly shifting to bright piano, and Martinez strips out of his jacket as he sweats it out in a white t-shirt and jeans. Track six “Manuel’s Story” introduced us to a story of violence and cartel displacement over energetic synths and trappings, and track seven “Invisible People” slowed it down while plaintively addressing universal feelings; “Fuck the system because it’s all over.”
All of their day one Mexican fans cheered as the eighth track “Itotiani” made them reminisce about listening to old Mexican rock bands in the 70s and 80s at venues like Flamingo Ballroom, with the guitar splitting into beats roaring tongues and the keyboardist holding each note a few seconds longer in classic Latin style. They followed with the cumbia number “La Manzanita”, sending the crowd roaring as Martinez addressed his longtime Austin fans: “It’s so great to be here tonight… thank goodness , Austin always brings the vibe.”
After a series of fun, riff-heavy jams, Martinez slowed down and picked up a guitar for a common ballad, “Para Agradecer,” shouting in soulful notes as the lights dimmed to blue. Martinez continues to harness terrific and driving vocals as the band paints a kaleidoscope of genres and sounds ranging from big band and psychedelic to intimate crooning and tropical beats.
My boyfriend gets teased, he’s one of the few Mexicans who listens to so much indie music; well, all of Austin’s indie-loving Latinx population roared as they finished with the classic hit “Black Lipstick.”