É ARENAS + BARDO MARTINEZ (CHICANO BATMAN) @ THE ECHOPLEX
Photos by Carlos Garcia
A hometown stop of the co-headlining É Arenas/Bardo Martinez mini tour made its way up and down the California coast. Eduardo Arenas and Bardo Martinez form half of the LA’s Chicano Batman. Separately, they bring their own distinct style and energy to the stage.
É Arenas was the first of the two to hit the stage. He was accompanied by his backing band–the self proclaimed “Iguanas del Mar.” With every song they played came a different flavor from the encyclopedia of Mexican backyard parties.
“Chili, Chili, Chili” was reminiscent of the cumbias that would blast a backyard BBQ on Sunday afternoon and “Dando Vuelas” was reminiscent of the Norteno ballads your uncles would play at the end of the party when they’ve had too much drink.
But the party did not truly start until Arenas broke into his psychedelic quebradita song titled “Mar Iguana.” Arenas unzipped his plain track suit jacket and revealed his self made Norteno vest–complete with sleeves lined with fringe and “É Arenas” embroidered on the back. It was a vest even Jose Guadalupe Esparza would approve of. From that moment forward the night was on! Howls and Gritos fermented from the crowd and didn’t cease. Arenas slowly walked towards the back of the stage. He pulled out a large sign from behind his amp. He made sure not to reveal what the sign said as he walked back to the microphone.
“I just got two words to say–that’s it!–just two fucking words.”
In a stance of defiance, Arenas raised the sign high above his head which read “FUCK ICE.” The band suddenly exploded into a loud growling sound that filled the venue as Arenas threw the sign into the hungry crowd. The sign was immediately torn into pieces with no visible trace of its existence left behind.
The show then turned into a night of celebration. A night to celebrate what it means to grow up first or second generation Latinx in Los Angeles.
We echoed the same chant our tias would yell at backyard parties from our childhoods. “EH! Eh! EH! EE!”
We stomped the heels and toes of our boots as our tios had taught us to do at the break of every drum beat.
Arenas finished his set with a cover of the “El Sonidito” as the crowd stormed the stage to dance dance and partake in the celebration.
Bardo Martinez closed out the night. In matching track suits, Martinez and company brought the tiger style technique as they played their blend of psychedelic soul. Martinez moved across the stage slowly and acutely as he soulfully serenaded us until the party came to an end.
Los Retros opened up the show with his down tempo romantic ballads.