Los Lobos, Damnations TX, Stubb's, October 13

Live Shots

Los Lobos, Damnations TX

Stubb's, October 13

A full moon on Friday the 13th may be an eerie portent for those who believe in such things, but Los Lobos never acknowledged that they were playing the prime day for lunatics. Although there was a fair share of howling during their long, high-energy, and musically diverse set, East L.A.'s finest instead had to fulfill the "best band in America" sobriquet bestowed upon them by both the KGSR DJ's introduction and openers the Damnations TX, who appeared genuinely awed to be sharing the stage. Los Lobos lived up to that title with aplomb, nearly every one of what must have been close to 3,000 in attendance seemingly coming away a believer. Since their recently re-released first album is a collection of traditional Mexican songs, there were rumors of an acoustic-based set, which were immediately put to rest by the full-on electric blast of opener "I Got Loaded." After that, the band proceeded to cover as much musical ground as is humanly possible in two hours. From blues to art rock to traditional Mexican fare, from reggae to soul to Tex-Mex, they traveled from East L.A. to San Antonio and back, with charm, power, and grace, making it look like a walk in the park. Highlights included a swampy "Down on the Riverbed," a shout-out to the late Doug Sahm with "She's About a Mover," a crowd-pleasing sing-along of "Volver Volver," and the rip-roaring set closer, Sonny Boy Williamson's "One Way Out." Unafraid of taking chances, Los Lobos take the term "jam band" to new and unusual heights. There was never any excessive noodling, as even Bob Marley's "Waiting In Vain" was pulled off with the proper combination of devotion and sultry emotion. "The Best Band In America"? If there's a better one, Austin has yet to experience it. The Damnations' spirited opening set showed them to be a band in transition. While the focus clearly remains on sisters Amy Boone and Deborah Kelly, guitarist Rob Bernard stepped out front a little more than before, adding a new dimension to the local quartet's pop/rock/country sound. Also new was Boone performing on the organ, which gave the band some new colors to work with, and their newly minted songs an interesting edge.

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