Psychedelic soul and funk band Chicano Batman have been rocking the Dark Knight moniker since long before Ben Affleck received the nod to be the next Hollywood man to don the legendary cape and cowl.
But the Los Angeles-based quartet comprised of singer, guitarist and organist Bardo Martinez, bassist Eduardo Arenas, drummer Gabriel Villa and guitarist Carlos Arévalo have been chasing a different kind of justice and freedom since the group's inception in 2009.
That quest made its way to FilmBar last night, when Chicano Batman hit Phoenix for their Outer City Limits tour.
The independent movie house proved to be a great setting for the fearsome foursome as they dished out bilingual lyrics, cumbia-fueled rhythms drenched in funky bass lines, and touches of slick guitar riffs and warbled wah-wah's from Martinez's 1970 Yamaha combo organ. Although the sound setup slightly stifled the group's vocals, the performance was tight, and everyone was on point.
Dance-happy fans filled the theater space well before the group took the stage shortly after 10 p.m. Of course, Chicano Batman came out sporting their trademark frilly, blue tuxedo tops and quickly rolled into "El Frio" and "Cycles of Existential Rhyme" off of their latest album.
By the time they launched into "La Samoana" and "Um Dia Do Sol" off of their self-titled debut, seated patrons had risen to their feet and the crowd hugging the walls were swaying back and forth.
As rockin' as it was soulful, the night played out like a '70s era backyard boogie or junior high school dance. But it was also reminiscent of a Carlos Santana concert, and even a tropicana night club. Martinez commanded the most attention on stage as his fingers danced along his organ keys and he animatedly articulated his lyrics. Drummer Gabriel Villa proved to be equally mesmerizing with his impressive mullet and a persistent cowbell.
The Chicano Batman vibe is everything you'd expect from a group of guys inspired by the likes of Brenton Wood, The Four Tops, Los Angeles Negros, and Los Bukis.
Your parents definitely would have been macking it to Chicano Batman if the band had been around back then, and it's still a beautiful thing to hear today.
Set List El Frio Cycles of Existential Rhyme La Samoana Um Dia Do Sol It's a Balloon El Jalapeño A Cool Blessing Magma Joven Navegante Lembra Itotiani
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Chicano Batman at Filmbar
Personal Bias: I love me some oldies.
The Crowd: Latin-loving dance fiends.
Overhead in the crowd: "I can't stop staring at his mullet. It's awesome."
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