A crowd waited outside the Fox Theater in Oakland on Friday for the Spanish and English band, Chicano Batman, that not only had the audience dancing all night but also sent a strong message against police brutality.
Chicano Batman is comprised of four musicians from Los Angeles: lead singer Bardo Martinez, bassist and vocalist Eduardo Arenas, guitarist Carlos Arévalo and drummer Gabriel Villa. The band’s unique tone excites the ear of almost anyone who loves oldies, psychedelic soul, funk and indie.
The opening band, Khruangbin, immediately had the crowd dancing. Khruangbin ended their set by introducing Chicano Batman, who came on stage dressed in their classic tuxedos and opened the show with their song ‘Angel Child.’
Cristina Navarro, SF State senior studying recreation parks and tourism, said she loves Chicano Batman because she also grew up in Los Angeles. She said their sound reminds her of another group called Los Tigres del Norte, which her mom grew up listening to.
“Listening to their music makes me proud of being Latina, and it makes me proud of our music and our culture and our heritage,” said Navarro.
Navarro said she tried to hide the fact that she spoke Spanish when she was young but now finds herself speaking Spanglish, a mix of the Spanish and English languages, with her friends all the time. She said listening to Chicano Batman reinforces her identity.
“Now, I want to embrace it more and be like ‘oh, not everyone can speak more than one language,’ and just hearing it in music is just really beautiful,” said Navarro.
The band made the entire crowd dance to “La Manzanita,” a song that incorporates more cumbia music, which is a very popular genre in Latin America. They not only made the crowd dance but dedicated the song “La Jura” to both Los Angeles and Oakland. “La Jura” is a song about police brutality, talking about how their friend was killed by the police.
Their cover for their album ‘Freedom is Free’ was on stage, representing the band’s stance against police brutality of people of color.
Kaitlyn Cox, a San Jose native who attended the concert, said she immediately fell in love with the band after her friend introduced her to their sound. She said even though she does not speak Spanish, she enjoys their songs.
“I listen to all of their music on Youtube and a lot of people write ‘why can’t they translate this,’ and it’s just like they don’t have to … it doesn’t need to be translated for me to enjoy it,” said Cox.
Another concert goer, Quincy Bouldin, photography major at San Jose State, said he is from Los Angeles, and it was his first time watching Chicano Batman live.
“It’s always nice seeing people from your hometown up in an area that isn’t your hometown,” said Bouldin. “It’s a little comforting.”
He said having bilingual music is important, teaching kids to stick with their roots. He said his mom tried to teach him Spanish but was always reluctant to pick up the language. Bouldin said he wished he would have learned how to speak Spanish.
“Having a band that a lot of these kids look up to that speak Spanish and that is heavily about getting those roots in their music … it kind of gives people a persuasive push to continue to learn more about their culture” said Bouldin. “This whole Spanish culture, East Los Angeles, Chicano culture is massive.”
The lead vocalist, Bardo Martinez, said it felt good to him to have sold out of the venue and thanked Oakland for it. They ended with their song “Itotiani” and Martinez asking the crowd to say love after he said one, for all to unite and together say ‘one love.’