Los Bitchos at Music Hall of Williamsburg (photo by Kate Hoos)
It’s not an exaggeration to say that this show was one of the ones I was looking forward to the most since the return of live music. Los Bitchos first grabbed my attention in 2020 on the strength of their excellent performance for KEXP as part of Trans Musicales 2019 and it was love at first listen. Deep in the throws of lockdown and full of despair from the uncertainty of the early stages of the pandemic, they were like a breath of fresh air during a pretty bleak time. I’ve always been a fan of instrumental music which is what first attracted me to them, but admittedly heavier, mathier and more morose bands are my norm when it comes to that (think Russian Circles, Pelican, Kerretta). But then Los Bitchos came along and shattered that, bringing a much needed ray of sunshine into my life while also sparking an interest in more upbeat styles of instrumental music.
Flash forward to 2022 and Los Bitchos released their highly anticipated, genre smashing debut full length, Let The Festivities Begin!, (read my review) and announced a US tour. I immediately marked the date on my calendar and awaited the day of the show, beyond stoked to finally get to see the band play live. I listened to the album on repeat in the months leading up to the show and when the day finally arrived, I was like a little kid in a candy shop, feeling a pep in my step as I walked up to the venue; I was more than ready to have some fun and see the Bitchos let loose in person.
While the wait to see them play was admittedly annoyingly long because of the pandemic, it was totally worth it to finally see their exuberance up close and in person. Not to mention I picked a good spot to watch the show, being right in front of lead guitarist Serra Petale, who had no lack of shreds to spare, her spitfire guitar (and percussion) skills leading the charge and keeping the celebration going all throughout the night. The band was firmly anchored by the rock solid rhythm section of drummer Nic Crawshaw and bassist Josefine Jonsson, (and joined by touring rhythm guitarist Ryan Fitzgibbon), with Agustina Ruiz providing the accents and flair on keys to make for a nonstop party on stage from start to finish. The band is an instrumental act first and foremost, and I hope this is something they keep with as this is where their strengths lie, but I knew from videos that shouts and yells and occasional lyrics do find their way into the live set, and seeing it in person, it really did add another layer of fun to the already lively mix.
It was clear that the band was over the moon to be there, this being their first headlining show in New York and in fact only their second show here (they had opened for Belle and Sebastian at SummerStage a few days prior). They played the entirety of their album and rounded out the set with three covers: “Trapdoor” by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, “Yulele” by Uruguayan songwriter Eduardo Mateo, and fittingly closed the night by passing around a bottle of tequila on stage before launching into an amped up, punky version of “Tequila,” the 1950s party classic by The Champs, complete with added lyrics by Ruiz. The crowd ate every single song up, cheering, dancing, and of course joining in with the band’s signature hand moves on “Pista (Fresh Start),” a big highlight of the evening for me and I’m sure for most other fans. “I Enjoy It!” was another highlight for me, as it is one of my favorite tracks on the album, showing off the Turkish psych side of the band and the way they so seamlessly move between various styles/genres and blend feels from song to song.
Before they kicked into “Lyndsey Goes to Mykonos,” they took a moment to check to see if Lindsey Lohan (who inspired the song) was in the audience to invite her up to join them on stage. Sadly she was not, but perhaps next time they hit New York Ms. Lohan will come forward to dance among the Bitchos.
As if this night already wasn’t exciting enough for me, one my local favorites and some of my very good friends, Nevva, opened the show. While different from Los Bitchos sonically, the two bands were a perfect pairing attitude and style wise, with Nevva’s healthy helping of snarky, irreverent riot grrrr inspired punk songs bringing plenty of their own party vibes and expertly setting the tone of the evening. With songs like “Black Leggings,” “Sober Vegan,” and my personal favorite, “Boyfriend’s Band,” this feisty trio has more than enough of their own brand of sass to spare.
In addition to the good times on stage, the members of Los Bitchos were all very friendly and engaging with fans, posing for Polaroids outside and chatting. When I ran into Petale at the downstairs bar, she was nice enough to chat for a few moments (about her past band, Kid Wave, and Crawshaw’s punk band Dead Arms who are one of my favorites) and thanked me for coming. Later when I was invited up to Nevva’s green room to take pics, Los Bitchos also very graciously gave me a few moments of their time for a few portraits before heading out to keep the party going at another location in Brooklyn—gotta keep it on brand after all!
As the old saying goes, good things come to those who wait. Good things indeed and party vibes forever with Los Bitchos as the soundtrack. And I can get behind that, any time, any place.
Scroll down for setlist, fan shot videos and pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)
Los Bitchos Setlist: FFS, Change Of Heart, Good To Go!, Lindsay Goes to Mykonos, The Link Is About to Die, Tropico, Tripping At A Party, Yulele (Eduardo Mateo cover), I Enjoy It!, Trapdoor (King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard cover), Try The Circle, Pista (Fresh Start), Las Panteras, Tequila! (The Champs cover)