The Bolos, San Antonio's Rock Ambassadors, Bring Bluesy Garage Punk to Gramps
Photo by Richard Ramos
They say a lot of things about Texas: Everything is bigger there, all your exes live there, and you certainly shouldn't mess with it. But you won't often hear about its quality weird-rock scene. Nestled in south-central Texas, San Antonio has given the music world luminaries such as punk/Tejano royalty Alejandro Escovedo from the Nuns; early region punkers the Rejects; mid-'80s wave Mystery Dates; and the long-running weirdos and perennial Texans the Butthole Surfers.
Adding to that growing canon of alternative acts is a quartet of youngsters paying homage to the most Western of Western neckwear, the bolo tie. Pooling from local acts and mutual acquaintances about four years ago, the Bolos are composed of Osita Anusi on bass and vocals, Emilio Gomez on drums, Tanner Daniel on guitar, and Abel Lopez on guitar and vocals.
"Playing loud and proud comes very easy to us, and we are fortunate enough to be so close to Austin and all the like-minded and ass-busting bands," Lopez says of their region. "Texas is a huge melting pot, and towns like ours and Austin are very open and treat us as family. San Antonio is very comfortable for us now since there is so much work, opportunity, and really cool people here."
In their four-odd years as a band, they've undergone a couple of lineup changes, which have limited the band's recorded output to one-off tracks and small, split releases such as the 2015 EP Mercy and this year's seven-inch single, "Saint Henry"/"Babycakes." Their music, lo-fi rock informed by punk rock and generously touched by different iterations of the blues, is the kind of rough and effervescent product that rights the many wrongs of today's pop and restores a semblance of balance to rock 'n' roll.
"Influences and song ideas have definitely shifted a few gears," Daniel notes. "When the band first started, one of the guitar players was a solid blues man, so his playing did project a lot of that. Abel moved to guitar, where things kicked up a notch, and blues wasn't necessarily removed from our sound but was just more pissed and aggressive. We all have similar tastes and are extremely open to anything that is just fucking good."
Going on to cite a "shit sandwich" of influences — psych, Afrobeat, soul, R&B, hardcore punk, noise — Tanner says including a diversity of sounds in their work offers a glimpse into the camaraderie shared by these four dudes. Though their lives are ruled by differentiating sets of circumstances, the Bolos' shared love for rock 'n' roll and the pursuit of new music to geek out to is making them well-known ambassadors of their town.
"Some of us in the group do a lot of booking and keep the bridge sturdy and hospitable to all touring bands, which keeps our relationships with everyone across the world healthy and very fun," Lopez explains before raving about the band's first Miami performance — one they've been looking forward to since making friends with touring locals the Plastic Pinks and the Gun Hoes.
Hosted by Ghost Drag Records and joined by the Sandratz and Sonic Graffiti, the Bolos will make their Miami debut at Gramps with a couple of special-edition tapes from past recordings in tow. As for the future, Daniel sums up his goals: "Finish up our next album, work five jobs to afford to release it on more platforms, possible European tour, maybe take a shower?"
With Sandratz and Sonic Graffiti. 8 p.m. Friday, March 31, at Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-699-2669; gramps.com. Tickets cost $6. Ages 21 and up.
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