Bumbershoot 2017, Day One: Chicano Batman

Bumbershoot, Live Reviews
Gabe Pollak
all photos by Morgen Schuler (view set)

It's been a big year for Chicano Batman. The L.A. four-piece released the Freedom is Free, their third album in total and first on big-time indie label ATO Records. They made their first appearance on late night TV, performing on Conan in May, and hit the festival circuit hard, playing top slots at FYF, Sasquatch!, and Newport Folk.

As anyone lucky enough to catch their set at the Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival on Friday night will tell you, the success is well-deserved. They've been making music together for eight years and their shows are only getting better, their material more finely-tuned. Fans packed the Mural Amphitheatre with expectations of their favorite sharply-dressed, genre-defying superheroes putting on another high-energy, soul-licked, Latin rock-tinged show and, holding up their end of the bargain, Chicano Batman delivered.

Bardo Martinez, Chicano Batman's exemplary, ever-enthusiastic frontman, switched nimbly between instruments, pulling off multiple changes sometimes within the space of one song. When he played his keyboard, he seemed to feel the music in his whole body, each vintage-sounding vibration of the keys eliciting a shudder from his shoulder down to his sneakers. Behind him on bass, Eduardo Arenas -- who released a solo project as this year as well -- rocked side to side while playing fast and funky bass lines, his face a look of in-the-groove ecstasy.

The crowd was clearly enjoying it too. When the band busted out an old psychedelic pop favorite, "Black Lipstick," a girl in bright orange pants screamed, spun around in circles, and rapidly stomped the ground. When, three songs later, the band played Freedom is Free lead single, "Friendship (Is a Small Boat in a Storm)," a pair of friends turned to each other, smiled, and posed for a selfie, eager to document what may have been their anthem. Most telling of the crowd's approval, when, two more songs later, the band finished show ended, the crowd cried hungrily for more. Don't worry, folks, they'll be back and, if their trajectory keeps going the way it has, you can expect even bigger things from Chicano Batman.

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