SXSW Saturday Review: Los Lobos at Stubb’s BBQ

The Stubb’s BBQ stage in Austin on Saturday night played out like a highlight reel of favorite Austin City Limits programs, with the reunited Mavericks followed by Patti Griffin, who turned the stage over to the Old 97’s in the midnight hour.

But the finale of the night–and, for many, of this year’s South by Southwest music festival–was a rollicking hour-plus of Los Lobos.
The band took the occasion to debut a number of songs from their forthcoming CD “The Ride,” which is due in stores in early May. The material proved so new that lyric sheets were present for about half the show, and the endings of a few songs showed some rough edges. But the band pulled through just fine, despite their apologies.

The new songs ranged from the hard-rocking “Charmed,” which provided a platform for Dave Hidalgo to rip into some downright nasty lead guitar work, to the El Paso-meets-Bakersfield feel of “Somewhere in Time,” which brought guest Dave Alvin to the stage. The vocal interplay between Alvin’s deep rumble and Hidalgo’s tenor wove a striking foundation for the song’s images of loss, need and hope, painted as dreamlike verses.

The familiar tunes on display favored the most recent Los Lobos release, 2002’s “Good Morning Aztlan.” Mid-set highlights included the dance-prompting “Maria Christina” and a snappy “Hearts of Stone,” which proved a showcase for some searing lead guitar work by Louie Perez.

Longtime followers of the band might have been surprised that the show lacked the usual batch of Spanish-language selections. A glance at the planned set list showed that they intended to wrap up the night with their accordion dance block, but delays with band changes throughout the night pushed back their start time to a point where the venue’s curfew cut the show short.

Set List:
Good Morning Aztlan
The Neighborhood
Hearts of Stone
Wreck of the Carlos Ray
Maria Christina
Don’t Worry Baby
Hurry Tomorrow
Somewhere in Time
Marie Marie