SummerStage in Central Park: Chicano Batman & Los Pericos at LAMC

by Ernest Barteldes

Chicano Batman + Los Pericos

LAMC at Summerstage in Central Park

July 15, 2017



Chicano Batman

Los Angeles-based Chicano Batman came on stage with their Psychedelic-inspired sound, complete with Mellotron-based tunes and a look more suited to Ed Sullivan circa 1968 then Central Park in 2017, but I guess that is the message they want to convey. Though mostly a quartet, they were often enhanced by a pair of backing vocalists – one whom took over the keyboards when lead singer Eduardo Arenas either stepped away from the mic to sing lead or played guitar.

I half expected this edition of the LAMC to be a bit political given the current divisions in the United States, but was surprised that no one spoke of walls or anything related to the current president in this country: it was all about the music and little else. The band instead took the opportunity to showcase as many of their influences as possible, including a Cumbia-inflected tune and a ranchera in which the bassist took over the guitar while Arenas took over the bass guitar.

Chicano Batman has great chemistry together, but it seems they are not yet ready to play large stages like Rumsey Playfield.  There is no doubt about their talent – their instrumental moments were quite great – but they seemed a bit overwhelmed about being before a numerous audience like the ones often seen there – I guess we are looking at diamonds in the rough, and would be happy to learn they’ve evolved in coming years.


Los Pericos

After a short break, Argentina’s Los Pericos brought a mix of funk and reggae with a Latin take – I felt they were very influenced by Brazil’s Paralamas do Sucesso – that got the audience moving from the moment they played their first chord.  They had great energy and effectively communicated with the crowd by calling on the different nationalities represented there.

Los Pericos has been around for three decades, and their set reflected that experience: the music went from disco-inflected moments to salsa and various other rhythms while never losing touch with their original influences. Since there were many in the audience who had probably never heard of them, the band jam-packed their set with their best material so people could know what they were about.  A handful of their tunes were in English – with lyrics that either talked about heartbreak or romantic defiance – but most were in their native Spanish.

It was a wonderful afternoon – I just wish the weather on Friday had been a bit better so I could have caught the showcase at Celebrate Brooklyn the previous night – it would have made for a much better musical experience.

Photo Exhibit: The Ugly Face of Institutionalized Homophobia

Photo Exhibit

“The Condemned: In My Country, My Sexuality

Is a Crime”

Espaço Cultural Correios Fortaleza

Rua Senador Alencar, 38

Fortaleza, Brazil

From May 15 to July 16

Free Admittance

By Ernest Barteldes

With all the advances we have seen in western countries towards gender equality, we might forget that not many LGBT people around the world have enjoyed the same conquests. As attitudes quickly change around us, we must not forget that thousands are still suffering just because they were not born within the expectations of their societies.

In a quiet room inside Fortaleza’s main post office there are pictures of men with their faces covered by their hands, masks or other objects. They cannot show their faces because they are all homosexuals living in countries where being gay is not just something that might be looked down upon – if discovered, they might face not only shame, imprisonment or fines – laws in the books allow them to be killed because of their sexual orientation.

Renata and I stumbled into the show while walking through Fortaleza’s city center – we had been shopping for a few things only found in that area, and then we went in to buy a few stamps. As we were about to leave, we noticed the show and decided to take a look. What we saw was heartbreaking:  along with the pictures were personal statements in Portuguese and English from each individual and the letter of the law for each country – including most of the Middle East and Africa. Surprisingly, there were also pictures of folks from Caribbean nations like the Bahamas and Jamaica, which still have homophobic laws in the books to this day.

The exhibit was curated by French-born Phillipe Castetbon, who published a book on the topic in France in 2010. Using the Internet, he reached out to these people online and asked them to participate in this project, which sought to “create awareness of the horrible threats that many of these gay men and women face through the pictures, from personal statements and by the laws that are still in effect in these countries” according to the brochure handed out at the show

It was heartbreaking to read what these human beings have to go through – to live in hiding and in fear or be forced to leave their own countries because of the imminent danger to their lives. The program for this show also includes a series of panel discussions and lectures to broaden the idea that yes, homophobia is a terrible thing, and it is worse when it had been institutionalized.