I wasn't acquainted with the music of The Zeros before Saturday night. Now, I'm pleased to have made their auditory acquaintance.
Often referred to as the Mexican Ramones (love the Ramones but The Zeros' sound is more complex), The Zeros formed in 1976 in Chula Vista, CA. The band members are Javier Escovedo, guitar and lead vocals; Robert Lopez, guitar and vocals (Lopez also performs as El Vez, the Mexican Elvis); Hector Penalosa, bass, vocals; and Baba Chenelle, drums. Considered among the first West coast punk bands, they often drove the hundreds of miles north to LA to play since "their kind of music wasn't heard or played" in San Diego at the time. They'd have to make the trek back to go to school the next day. Best known for their anthems Wimp and Beat Your Heart Out, they were popular on the new wave and punk scenes. They played with bands including The Germs, The Clash, The Avengers, The Weirdos and the Go-Go's. (They almost added X to this list, but the show ended prematurely before X could go on.) In 1978, Hector left to join F-Word; they continued as a trio for a while. The day came when they realized something was missing and the three parted. They went on to play in other bands and musical projects.
2009 has been a big year for them. The original four reunited for a 30th anniversary tour. See the then-and-now video. Earlier this month, they were presented with a Lifetime Achievement honor at this year’s San Diego Music Awards.
On Saturday night at the Funhouse, they exuded Velvet Underground '60s dapper--dressed in black, except for the light-colored shirt of Mr. Lopez/El Vez. From their confidence and chemistry, I had no idea this was a recent reunion. They possessed a familiarity, a playfulness that resulted in a great performance. Is that what happens when you form a successful band in high school? Maybe the excitement and emotion of being recognized for making music you love and believe in, especially at such a young age, is a feeling that can't be eradicated. Perhaps after decades of performing on stage, these guys are at home on stage, instruments in hand, with a grateful crowd showing up and cheering them on.
Seattle band The Greatest Hits opened the show with their '80s glam look. What I liked most about this five-piece was their vigor and heart. Another local band, Head, followed. No theatrics from these guys--played fast and sweated in their Ramones-esque style. A fun three-band bill!