So you love Chicano Batman. Here’s 6 more amazing LA indie bands to watch.


by Tom Nguyen

LA’s underground Latin indie and rock scene is the most vibrant and explosive I’ve seen in years. Sure, Chicano Batman put the scene on the map and kudos to them…Coachella twice and 3 back-to-back sold-out shows this September wow! They’re such the hip, in-demand darlings right now, eager fans chased them to their cars after their performance to an over-capacity crowd at One Colorado in Pasadena this summer. I see posts on Facebook like a 60-something white CSULA professor gushing about playing their music to her class and wondering why her Latino students hadn’t heard them yet…so I had to ask her besides the Johnnie Walker commercial she saw, can she name any of the many talented and unique bands with Latino musicians playing amazing music in LA right now? Nope.

So Chicano Batman bandwagoners, take note. It took them nearly a decade of playing before the white mainstream music industry noticed, and LA Weekly recently wrote a great piece about LA’s Latin alternative music continuing to break down barriers, thanks in large part to visionary promoters like Viva Presents and Qvolé Collective. The thriving multicultural scene can be summed up by Qvolé’s motto…The Future is Latin. So in addition to great acts promoted by Qvolé like Buyepongo, Brainstory, Cutty Flam, here are six upcoming independent bands I think you should check out: Earth Arrow, Sin Color, The Altons, Twin Seas, Weapons of Mass Creation, Welfair.

Not only are these talented bands under the radar, many are from LA neighborhoods often ignored like South LA and Southeast LA. And let’s get one thing straight…I hate the term Latin used to describe bands just like I hate other generic music genres like world music…simple labels don’t capture the rich tapestry and musical palettes of each of these bands. Each is musically so different and if they really have one thing in common besides their Latinidad, they’re children of immigrants, millennials growing up in LA’s communities of color, and being influenced by their parents’ music as much as the music of their peers, and golden eras of music preceding them.

Many of these musicians also play in each other’s bands. That’s one of the things I love about this tight knit music community and one of the reasons for so much great musical expression happening. There’s no rivalries, just a very collaborative, mutually supportive community, freely exploring and expressing their individual and collective musical visions, and everyone rooting for each other. Many of these young bands formed within the past couple of years and just releasing debut albums. I can’t wait to see the growth and trajectory of these bands the next couple of years. You can see a lot of these bands at this week’s Echo Park Rising as well as other shows all around LA this month!

Earth Arrow

South LA’s Earth Arrow seemed to burst out of nowhere and has been setting stages on fire and gaining new fans everywhere they play this year! Originally starting out as a solo project by guitarist Edgar Hernandez, the 8 member ensemble, including Chelsea Monet, Semi God, Xia Gemini, Pablo Oruê, Tekun Uman, Marlon Leonel and Malcome Stewart, describes themselves as “Afro-Cuban hip hop based band focusing on reviving ancient African and indigenous rhythms and dance”. They sing, they rap, they dance and drum furiously and defiantly onstage, with songs against white supremacy, police brutality, gender stereotypes…if there’s one band in LA that represents Black and Brown love and solidarity, and the Resistance against the racist, xenophobic climate right now, it’s Earth Arrow! They just released their debut album “Tribal Prisms” and you can catch them on tour throughout LA this week:

  • Wed 8/16 Cantos Urbanos Hosted by LobalamEastside Luv Bar, 1835 E. 1st St., Boyle Heights, 8pm, 21+, $5
  • Fri 8/18 Echo Park Rising, Rafas Lounge, 1836 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, 8pm, All Ages, FREE SHOW
  • Sat 8/19 Tipsy Wings Sports Bar, 11672 Ramona Blvd., El Monte, 9pm 21+, FREE SHOW
  • Sat 9/2 South LA Power Fest, 3pm, All Ages, FREE

Sin Color

I fell in love with Sin Color since the first time I saw them play one of their first shows in March 2015 at Espacio 1839 in Boyle Heights. Their synth pop sound instantly brought me back to my 80s teen days and it’s amazing how they’ve grown musically in just 2 years. Crisia Regalado has an incredible operatic vocal range and David Aquino is a multi-instrumental genius. Starting the band in their teens, the South LA band celebrates their eagerly awaited debut album “Frutas” with a free set this Thursday!

The Altons

Photo credit: @aohlmaier

This 5-piece band from Maywood in Southeast LA had me at first listen, from Adriana Flores’ smoky, soulful vocals, to Bryan Ponce’s blistering guitar solos. Rounding out The Altons are Carlos Canovas on drums, Gabriel Maldonado on bass, and Joseph Quinones on guitar and when they jam out, it’s rock n roll heaven! Their one-off Amy Tribute show in July with a horn section was one of my highlight shows of the summer. 

  • Sat. 8/19 Echo Park Rising, Lot 1 Cafe, 1533 Sunset Blvd, Echo Park, 8pm, All Ages, FREE SHOW
  • Fri. 8/25 Darling Girl release show, Civic Center Studios, 207 S Broadway Ste 1, Downtown, 8pm, All Ages, $7-$10
  • Sun. 9/24 Mi Poco LA at LA County Fair at Fairplex ($12 after MPLA discount, All ages).

Twin Seas

East LA band Twin Seas is the brainchild of vocalist and guitarist Eduardo Bueno and guitarist and keyboardist Jose Cruz, blending their love the ’80s new wave with “cheeky ’60s songwriting”.  The result: super addicting songs! From my favorite Machine Gun to this recent jam I filmed that was like a 5 minute aural orgasm. Joined by Fabian Marquez on bass and Carlos Canovas of The Altons on drums, you can tell they love what they do. I’m especially a big fan of Jose Cruz, who plays in many other bands, like Selenamos cover band, La Chamba…if he’s not performing, you’ll find him doing sound for other bands…one of the most talented, down-to-earth folks I’ve ever met.

  • Sun. 8/20 Echo Park Rising, The Semi-Tropic 1412 Glendale Blvd, Echo Park, 4:30pm, All Ages, FREE SHOW
  • Fri. 8/25 Darling Girl release show, Civic Center Studios, 207 S Broadway Ste 1, Downtown, 8pm, All Ages, $10
  • Sat. 9/16 Mi Poco LA at LA County Fair at Fairplex ($12 after MPLA discount, All ages).

Weapons of Mass Creation

Weapons of Mass Creation are a hip hop collective of 5 talented siblings, Luis, Jacob, Julia, Joseph, and Moses Franco, and a family friend and rapper Josh Quiñonez, hailing from Anaheim, California. Each has their distinctive voice and talent and seamlessly blend hip hop, funk and soul with powerful, socially conscious lyrics about police brutality, gentrification, patriarchy. OC Weekly wrote a great feature on them and how they don’t want to take the easy road to recognition by opening for more well-known rap acts, but would rather grow their way grassroots. As someone who grew up in OC, I’m incredibly proud to see a radical group shaking up the status quo there.

Welfair

Welfair was formed by singer and songwriter Danie Espinoza from Montebello and her debut EP “Good Mourning” was produced by close friend and multi-instrumentalist Mac Hill. Her vocals are sultry and hypnotic and her stage presence is magnetic. Besides her busy solo project with performances at The Hi Hat and Viva! Pomona this summer, she’s a highly sought after vocalist for other projects like Bardo Martinez and the Soul Investigators (Chicano Batman lead singer’s first solo release). Catch her at one of these shows this month:

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