Hep Cat brings Portugal. The Man and Chicano Batman to the Sugar Mill tonight, 7/14

Hep Cat Entertainment, one of New Orleans’ most innovative independent promoters, is bringing one of the most exciting tours of the season to New Orleans. Eclectic rockers Portugal. The Man are riding high after their Grammy win last year and Chicano Batman is gaining more and more followers and attention for their unique mix of genres that could only have been birthed by four Latinos out of Los Angeles. They play at the Sugar Mill tonight.

I first saw Portugal. The Man on one of the small stages at the Voodoo Fest long before the festival moved to City’s Park’s new festival grounds and began focusing more on EDM, mainstream rock, and hip hop acts. I first saw Chicano Batman on the tiny stage at Euclid Records.

Portugal. The Man has been on Atlantic Records since 2010 and have been growing in popularity with each album. Their Grammy win came in the category of “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” for the song “Feel It Still.” Their latest album, Woodstock, is another musical coup featuring lead singer John Gourley’s easy rapport and vocal synergy with his partner and background singer Zoe Manville.

The album, as its name might suggest, is an exploration of 1960s pop culture including the political climate that inspired much of the music back then. Gourley makes the connection self-evident since the album begins with a sample from Richie Havens’ performance at the famed 1969 rock festival.

While their musical styles couldn’t be more dissimilar, Chicano Batman brings a similar sensibility to their current music considering the connections between the political battles back in the 1960s and what is happening today. What separates the sound of the two bands is Chicano Batman’s more obvious indebtedness to the soul and psychedelic sounds of that era.

The music of Brazil’s Tropicália movement also plays a significant role in their music. Tropicália emerged in that South American country during the same time period as the psychedelic sounds in America, yet Brazilians were literally living under a military dictatorship while Americans just felt like they were.

Woozy organs, trippy guitars, funky-in-your-face bass playing, and soulful vocals characterized Tropicália. The politically charged lyrics of the songs were hidden from the authorities behind metaphors and other literary techniques. The two genres share many of the same inspirations especially the music of The Beatles.

Chicano Batman’s latest album, Freedom is Free, doesn’t blatantly pander to today’s political climate (of course, the message of “The Taker Story” is pretty obvious), but like most artists, particularly those from minority communities, blatant isn’t necessary. Of course, focusing on anything but the music isn’t necessary with either of these bands. They both put on great shows.

Show time is 9 PM. Valerie Sassyfras opens. Tickets are available here.

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