The biggest band in the history of Zoofest drew the biggest crowd in the history of Zoofest.
That was last Friday when Los Lobos headlined the annual outdoor festival on 14th street outside the Zoo Bar. The crowd, which covered most of the street between the stage on P Street and the gate on O Street, was as large as Zoofest observers had seen, matching and likely exceeding the crowd drawn by Delbert McClinton four years ago.
What that crowd got was a 80 minutes of the bluesy side of the East L.A. band — out of necessity.
Bassist Conrad Lozano, along with the band’s front-of-the-house engineer, had to return home Friday because of a family emergency. Patrick Recob, a Kansas City bassist, got a call at 3 p.m. to come to Lincoln to play with Los Lobos, with whom he’d never before performed. “Thank God I am a Los Lobos fan,” he said after the show.
To make the show work, the set was heavy on blues — including a driving rendition of the Allman Brothers “No Way Out” — but short on traditional Mexican songs (Lozano plays the guittaron, the “big guitar” that provides the low end for those songs) and more experimental numbers from albums like “Kiko” and “Colossal Head.”
There were some Los Lobos gems scattered through the set, starting with a call-and-response singalong, led by guitarist David Hidalgo, on “The Neighborhood” and including “Will the Wolf Survive,” and a raucous “Last Night,” with more crowd vocals and “Don’t Worry Baby,” that closed the set.
The encore, of course, was “La Bamba,” Los Lobos’ biggest hit, this time mashed up with the Rascal’s “Good Lovin.'”
Recob, who could be seen consulting with guitarists Cesar Rosas and Louie Perez and drummer Enrique Gonzalez during the set, did an admirable job playing a short-notice show with a band he’d never rehearsed much less previously played with. And Los Lobos, which can play anything, is a solid blues band with Hidalgo standing out on guitar.
Saturday's crowd was, as expected, smaller than Friday's as Zoofest returned to more of its standard lineup — with favorites who play to 100 people in the club instead playing to more than 1,000 outside.
That was Dale Watson & His Lone Stars dispensing some hard-core country, Tommy Castro and the Painkillers with guitar-rooted blues rock, and rock ‘n’ soul dynamo Nikki Hill closing out the festival.
Together they accounted for a fine night of music. And the festival itself was as well run as it has ever been with some new additions, including a video projection from the Zoo office on the parking garage across the street that featured pictures from past Zoofests and indoor shows, images of the posters that cover the bar’s walls and logos of the sponsors that, like all such events, make Zoofest possible.
Yellow Submarine at Ross
On Sunday, I managed to get “a miracle” and make it into the Ross Media Arts Center for the sold-out screening of “Yellow Submarine,” The Beatles’ 1968 animated movie that’s getting a very limited theatrical run in celebration of its 50th anniversary.
With cleaned up — by hand, not digitally — animation and a newly remixed and remastered soundtrack, “Yellow Submarine” was a revelation on the big screen with its Peter Max-meets-pop art imagery and theatrical surround sound.
I remember being somewhat baffled by “Yellow Submarine” when I saw it on its initial release in the Star Theatre in Curtis, where I grew up — and there were some younger viewers near me who clearly felt the same way at the Ross.
But for most, the picture is an entertaining period piece that had them singing along in places. And it was great fun to see it in a theater rather than at home.
“Yellow Submarine” only screened one time on Sunday, making the 300 of us in the Ross very lucky to have seen it.
By the way, the “miracle” is a reference to the phenomenon at Grateful Dead concerts in which those without tickets would be gifted a free ducat to get them into a show — which is precisely what happened for me Sunday.