Chicano Batman Takes Flight at Austin Psych Fest 2024

Chicano Batman Takes Flight at Austin Psych Fest 2024

April 27, 2024 in Concert Reviews

by dj lemonhead

Californian funk-meets-surf-rock band Chicano Batman grooved the night away at day one of Austin Psych Fest in front of a massive crowd at the Willie Stage.

Led by their soulful lead vocalist/keys player, Bardo, the band jammed out for an hour with music that was impossible for the crowd not to dance to.

The group had trouble sticking to only one genre; sounds ranged from 70s funk, soul, bedroom pop, classic rock, to cumbia and more. Bassist Eduardo Arenas and guitarist Carlos Arévalo make up the rest of the official trio while Dylan Elise and Quincy McCrary finish out the rhythm section on drums and keys, respectively.

Dina Zeid- Chicano Batman-3.jpeg

Photo by Dina Zeid.

The quintet had no trouble fitting into Austin’s music scene with their hybridized, experimental music.

McCrary was busy moving between keyboards, often incorporating synth into songs like “The Way You Say It” and “Itotiani,” adding to the almost-vintage sound of the music which paired sweetly with Bardo’s modern lyricism and crooning vocals. The singer flawlessly energized the crowd through his own large stage presence, constantly dancing around the space, moving between his mic and keyboard and putting his whole body into the singing.

During “Run,” Bardo’s more talkative and lowkey vocal style allows for the rhythm section to steal the show at first before Arévalo’s guitar adds more energy and picks up the vocal dynamics, only for everything to slow down again. These shifting dynamics were the case throughout Chicano Batman’s entire set: each song melded together not only various genres, but also a variety of tempos and instrumentation.

Bardo isn’t the only one who showed how he could lead a crowd.

Halfway through their set, Arenas handed his bass off to Bardo, picked up a guitar and took to the mic at the front of the stage to lead the band’s performance of “La Manzanita,” a cumbia-inspired song that Arenas wrote about an experience where he tried to give a homeless man an apple, only to find that he had no teeth. This switch up is nice, allowing the band to really show off their Latin roots and explore yet another musical style. Not to mention, Arenas has just as much swagger as usual lead vocalist Bardo.

Dina Zeid- Chicano Batman-1.jpeg

Photo by Dina Zeid.

The slowest part of the night came when the band performed “Fairytale Love,” a song that Bardo prefaced by asking the crowd, “Can I get personal with you?” The song, off their recently released album Notebook Fantasy, featured yearnful, angsty lyrics from the lead singer and ethereal keys from McCrary.

While many of the band’s songs are about love and longing, this one hit differently as Bardo delivered with a conviction, practically begging on stage through his lyrics.

The upstage visuals and lighting, which for most of the show were bright and frantic, dimmed for this song, only adding to the seriousness of the ballad. The ending of the song was drawn out, allowing for the audience to relish in its beauty, before the band abruptly cut into its most popular hit, “Black Lipstick.” The band took their time during this final song, drawing out the instrumentals and showing off their prowess one last time as the crowd turned into a total dancefloor.

Dina Zeid- Chicano Batman-5.jpeg

Photo by Dina Zeid.

Overall, Chicano Batman put on a truly unique performance that went beyond what their recorded tracks convey musically. It was clear that these performers are masters of their craft and enjoy performing just as much as the audience enjoyed watching and listening. With five albums and counting, one can hardly wait to see what the band does next.

All photos thanks to KVRX's Dina Zeid.

Stay in the loop with the KVRX newsletter