Los Bitchos are cumbia’s dada rock stars

Los Bitchos are an LSD-laced sugar cube melting in your mouth. The London-based four-piece make tripped-out 70s-inspired cumbia that sounds like it belongs in the 1966 Czech film Daisies—Věra Chytilová’s new-wave masterpiece, banned in part for a scene where two teenage girls have a food fight. “Wasting food,” the authorities said, which was really a sideways justification for censoring a libertine response to a corrupt culture that glorified worker productivity while creating an economy of scarcity. What’s the point of proving you’re good in a world that’s just plain bad?

That Daisies attitude seems to inspire Los Bitchos’ visual aesthetic too. On the cover of their 2022 debut, Let the Festivities Begin (City Slang), the bandmates wear party hats and mod minidresses and toast over cocktails from behind a buffet of treats. The pointed frivolity of the image feels like the cheekiest hello: “The party bitches are here!” In their music videos, Los Bitchos leans heavy on grindhouse chic, introducing each member as a character a la Charlie’s Angels, but they skirt sexploitation in favor of feminine camp and camaraderie. The video for their biggest single, “Las Panteras,” which has the emotional push-pull of a Looney Tunes chase sequence, most directly references the Angels franchise; the women track down and face off with a criminal named Pantera who can shape-shift between a house cat and a panther. In their follow-up video for the relatively mellow surf-rock tune “Good to Go!,” Los Bitchos transform into jailbirds on a game show where they compete against Pantera for their freedom. The audio and visuals combine in a nod to the relationship that cumbia and psych rock have to low-budget genre films (which all the cool kids know is where subversive themes thrive), but of course they’re also partaking in the rich history of rock ’n’ rollers presenting themselves as larger-than-life characters on absurdist adventures to which fans can feel proximity through their art. And that’s the appeal of Los Bitchos—they’re seriously good musicians who don’t care to be serious.

Los Bitchos, Rudy de Anda, Wed 6/22, 8:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, $20, 21+

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