Jack Johnson (in blue shirt) and bandmates (from left) Merlo Podlewski, Adam Topol, and Zach Gill gave a memorable performance in honor of the Lobero's 150th Anniversary, despite the fact that the power was out for most of the evening. | Credit: Leslie Dinaberg

And the band played on….

The historical timeline of the Lobero Theatre had yet another notable evening tonight when — on February 21, 2023, the eve of the venue’s 150th anniversary — there was a power outage during the opening act of the sold-out Jack Johnson concert, and Johnson and the band gamely played on for the hometown crowd, performing an almost two-hour set completely unplugged, lit primarily by the audience’s cell phones. 

That audience, it should be noted, had waited in line for up to five hours for tickets (sold only in person) to the special anniversary engagement performance at the intimate 604-seat venue. Johnson normally plays much larger venues (for example, he sold out two nights at the 4,500-seat Santa Barbara Bowl last fall), but as he told Independent writer Kat Sophia just last week, when she asked him about his special affection and support for the Lobero: “I’ve seen great shows there, and it’s definitely a place [where] if we can do some help on the fundraising and celebrate how long they’ve been around, we’re excited to be a part of that. My favorite show I saw there was Neil Young warming up for a tour — they just announced they were basically gonna rehearse and let people watch the rehearsals. That was really moving. It’s just a great place. I have a lot of great memories of seeing shows there.”

The band certainly left the audience with a night they won’t forget tonight.

Johnson and his band members bassist Merlo Podlewski, drummer Adam Topol, and accordion player and pianist Zach Gill (who lives in Goleta and sang about three songs as the opening act before the power went out and Johnson joined him onstage), proved themselves to be good sports, along with the enthusiastic audience. The extremely improvised set list included crowd favorites like “Banana Pancakes,” “Better Together,” “Upside Down,” “Flake,” and “Bubble Toes.”

They also did a few covers, including Cat Stevens’s “Father and Son,” as well as a soulful version of “Teach Your Children Well,” which they dedicated to the late David Crosby. 

Credit: Leslie Dinaberg
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