Review | Los Lobos at Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre
50 Years Into an Amazing Run, These Wolves Can Still Howl with the Best of Them
The impressively expansive and eclectic musical offerings of Los Lobos were on grand display at last weekend’s two-night takeover of the Lobero to kick off the theater’s 150th anniversary ovation celebration into high gear. The band may be entering their golden years on this 50th anniversary tour, but these wolves can still howl, that’s for sure!
While I heard great things from my superfan friend Joni about the completely different “acoustic” night number two, I only saw the “amplified” version of Los Lobos (night one), starting with special guests Rasquache Liberation Front, who warmed up the happy crowd with a terrific set. Los Lobos sax player Steve Berlin jumped in on a few songs as well.
After just enough time to freshen our drinks, Los Lobos commanded the stage in full force, quickly working their way to their 1984 single “Will the Wolf Survive,” an iconic tune that’s survived just fine, at least for anyone alive during the ’80s, which covered the bulk of this crowd.
With their characteristic blend of rock and roll, zydeco, folk, R&B, blues, soul, and traditional Mexican music such as cumbia, boleros, and norteños, Los Lobos entertained the enthusiastic crowd as heartily as ever with favorites like “Volver,Volver,” “Kiko” and “Good ‘Lovin.” At 68, lead vocalist, co-founder, and guitarist David Hidalgo still has amazing versatility and a great stage presence, along with all of the members of the band.
When guitarist Cesar Rojas — with his trademark black sunglasses and goatee — asked, “Do we have any dancers here,” many folks made their way up to the foot of the stage to show off their moves. Minutes later the classic “Chuco’s Cumbia” got even more people up out of their seats and onto the de facto dance floor.
This crowd may have some bad knees, but it’s still got some awfully good dance moves.
Los Lobos, meanwhile, didn’t show their age one bit, seamlessly rocking their way through a mix of Spanish and English and an enduring musical language that’s all their own. Once upon a time in the ‘80s, Los Lobos may have had the moniker of “Just Another Band From East L.A.,” but in 2023, they’ve earned bragging rights in every language as one of America’s most deservedly enduring bands.
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