The band plays often in Seattle, and this time performs Feb. 22-25 in a more intimate setting at the Triple Door.
Los Lobos once titled an album “Just Another Band From East L.A.,” but they’ve never been “just” anything. Since the band formed in the 1970s, they’ve won three Grammy Awards, had hit albums and have often been cited as one of the best live bands of the modern rock era.
And it’s not just “La Bamba”-era boomers who shout their praises. Even the millennial-oriented website AV Club recently called Los Lobos “the best rock band nobody is listening to.”
That headline has never been true for discerning music fans in Seattle, and in just the past couple of years the band has played a dozen area concerts. That tradition lives on with four concerts next week at the Triple Door, Wednesday through Saturday, Feb. 22-25.
8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, Feb. 22-25, Triple Door, 216 Union St., Seattle; $75-$90 (tickets.thetripledoor.net).
Los Lobos’ multi-instrumentalist Steve Berlin used to live on Vashon Island, but even he says he’s not sure why they play here so often. “I think because we like Seattle,” he laughs, “and Seattle likes us.” In contrast, though, they haven’t played Portland, where Berlin now lives, in two years.
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A big part of the reason for our luck is because Los Lobos loves to play, and the Triple Door is one of those special venues that allow a band to do a multi-night residency (Jazz Alley is another).
The ticket price has to be a bit higher for this to work ($75), but for fans it offers a chance to see a stellar band in intimate digs. Los Lobos probably leaves money on the table compared to doing a larger theater, but they get a chance to stretch out their set list.
“We take it as a personal challenge to repeat as little as we can from night to night,” Berlin says. “That’s an interesting challenge over four nights, and it rewards us, and those who go each night.”
Even for Los Lobos, with a 22-album discography, it’s still hard to come up with different songs that fit well into a perfect live set. In a four-night residency, like at the Triple Door, Berlin says the last night always gets “weird.”
They also include cover songs that honor native sons. In Toronto, that meant Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer.” In Seattle, it’s almost always Jimi Hendrix (Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas join three dates of the current Experience Hendrix tour, but not the Paramount show on Sunday, Feb. 19).
“In Seattle, we always go deep on Jimi,” Berlin says. “It’s honor, respect.”
Those two words sum up what many fans feel about the best band in East L.A., and, for four nights at least, the best in Seattle.