For Eduardo Arenas, one of the highlights of his band Chicano Batman's last big tour was its stop in Tucson.
The group - a quartet from Los Angeles specializing in different retro styles of Latin rock - had a series of three sets at La Cocina on a Saturday night last Nov- ember.
The first set came during the venue/restaurant's dinner rush.
"The owner came over and told us not to play too loud because she needed to be able to communicate with customers," Arenas said. "We had to play a jazz set."
Set No. 2 was a little louder as the dinner crowd thinned out and the nightclub crowd moved in.
By the time set three rolled around, at about 11:30 in the evening, the festivities were at full steam.
The group played for half an hour to a packed courtyard between electronic sets from DJ Herm.
"It was definitely a party crowd," Arenas said. "They didn't expect a live band. They didn't expect our sound. We rocked it. It was epic."
Arenas, 30, and the rest of Chicano Batman hope to get a similar reaction when they play Club Congress for the first time Friday night.
The ensemble is performing as part of the ¡Coacholo! Latin Music Mini-Festival, which will take place on two stages at Congress and feature a series of indie rock groups, cumbia bands and electronic DJs.
Chicano Batman plays a little of everything, pulling its music from a variety of influences, with a special focus on Brazilian artists of the Tropicalismo movement, such as Caetano Veloso and Tom Zé, and classic Spanish language groups, mostly from Mexico, that band members grew up with living in different parts of Los Angeles.
They wear retro ruffled tuxedo tops as a tribute to the supergroups they remember hearing as kids.
"It is an homage to a bunch of bands," Arenas said. "Los Solitarios, Los Bukis. Pretty much any band with a 'Los' at the beginning of their name would be dressed up in some kind of cool outfit."
Chicano Batman released its first full-length album in 2010. Its follow-up EP, "Joven Navegante," came out last summer.
Despite coming from different interests musically - including metal, Brazilian, jazz and cumbia - the group has never had a problem producing music together, Arenas said.
In fact, the broad range has allowed the band to expand on its sound.
"At this point, we are writing pieces for each other," Arenas said. "We know what to expect and who is capable of what. It is a good place to be musically."
Arenas said Batman creates a lot of energy, both on and off the stage at its shows.
The group's music is unpredictable, he added.
You never know what's coming next
"We put in things like a lot of stops, a lot of breaks," Arenas said. "You get a lot of rich sounds. But our intentions are always clear on what we want to do."
Chicano Batman is still building an audience, but has developed a strong foothold in Tucson, having played in town twice before.
Arenas said, no matter the venue, performing music is an integral part of his life and the lives of his bandmates.
"For me, performing is the closest thing that I have to delivering a sermon," Arenas said. "Playing music is my religion."
if you go
• What: Chicano Batman in concert as part of the ¡Coacholo! Latin Music Mini-Festival.
• When: 8 p.m. Friday.
• Where: Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St.
• Tickets: $5. Call 622-8848 for more information.
Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-8430.