As part of Manchester’s beloved bar and venue YES’ fifth anniversary celebrations, Los Bitchos graced The Pink Room on Friday night (15th September).
The London-based quartet made their name with the release of their debut album, Let the Festivities Begin! – produced Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos – in February of 2022. The band met in 2017 and features South London drummer Nic Crawshaw, Swedish bassist Josefine Jonsson, Australian guitarist Serra Petale, and Uruguayan keytar player Agustina Ruiz. Since the release of their album, Los Bitchos have received critical acclaim, most notably for their seamless fusion of genres whose pan-continental influences can be heard throughout.
“Our sound just happened,” says Petale. “If anyone has any ideas, as deranged as they might be, we just put them in.”
Listening to the instrumental ballads, one may be tempted to categorise the band as progressive rock as the music oscillates fervently from formalism to eclecticism. However, what has become clear is that Los Bitchos’ style is rooted in the ineffable. To categorise them would be akin to caging a songbird; why restrict something whose musical accolades are beginning to take flight? The answer: you don’t.
On their genre, Petale adds “We go with instrumental because that’s what it is. Oh, and party and tequila. The first album was grounded in a lot of cumbia, a lot of Turkish music. And I suppose everything evolves at the end of the day. There’s a little taste of everything.”
This is no hyperbole; there really is a little bit of everything. Within their up-tempo ballads ring out trademark sounds of Turkish psych, Argentine cumbia, and distorted surf rock which combine to create a pulsating mix of instrumental scores. Add in a couple of synths, a keytar, and Afro-pop beats and you get Los Bitchos.
During our conversation, the term ‘deluded’ came up several times. Watching them perform, I understood why: there were no rules on stage. Los Bitchos checked the idea of a well-oiled and seamless performance at the door, instead adopting a style that was unsynchronised yet somehow perfectly in time.
The band notably swapped out the verse-chorus or ABAB formation typical of most rock music, replacing it instead with psychedelically freewheeling ballads loaded with sentimentality.
“Serra’s really good at writing nostalgic songs,” says Ruiz. “Even if they’re party songs you can always feel that little bit of sadness, in a good way. It’s a great gift to have.”
While an air of melancholy can indeed be felt in some of their songs, this does nothing to detract from the upbeat tempos. The songs encourage, if not enforce, head-bopping, hip-swaying moves, and the audience at YES obliged with zeal. Their music is an ode to disco grooves and dancing.
“Will we be having tequila tonight? Oh God, yes. There’s a bottle backstage,” laughed Petale.
Music of such globe-trotting diversity could easily become pretentious in the face of rapid acclaim. Los Bitchos, however, have remained firmly grounded in their musical performance, humbled by the presence of their loving fans. From their outgoing fashion choices, their mastery of unconventional instruments, and their fanatical stage presence, Los Bitchos not only subvert the idea of your classic ‘girl band,’ but they throw out the rule book entirely.