The Zeros With The Flytraps At El Cid, Friday July 6th 2018
The Flytraps don’t care for detours, they play an aggressive brand of garage rock with old school punk assaults and a trashy attitude, while screaming for the lost generations of punk rockers. Fresh from their performance at the John-Waters-hosted Burgerboogaloo last weekend, the Flytraps were opening for legendary punk rock band The Zeros, during a Pure Trash special evening presented by Lethal Amounts, at El Cid.
Lead singer Kristin Cooper was a tall fury on stage, playing an aggressive game, doing several jumps at the most unexpected moments, with some wild and sexy shrieks, while her female acolytes on guitars looked much more restrained in comparison. The almost all-girl band (they had a guy on drums) opened the late night show, as they went on stage around 11 pm in front of a very enthusiastic crowd, which had been drinking beers for hours… and you may picture the scene. The Flytraps propelling songs had some hardcore-level riffs with a large dose of surf guitars, back up by an intensive drumming, while Kristin was succeeding at being THE frontwoman, tight in a black leather skirt, spicing up the show with hoarse screams, kicking the air with her best idea of a wild rock ‘n’ roll party. ‘The Zeros changed our lives’ said Kristin at one point,… and looking at the middle age (to much older) crowd around me, these old school punks had to be legendary.
The Zeros were among the many bands which emerged from punk in the ‘70s-‘80s in California, but they had something special, as they were one of the first Latin punk bands. Led by Javier Escovedo, the band was known for its fabulous covers of The Standells, The Righteous Brothers and Johnny Thunders, but also for its infectious punk-rock anthems and raucous live shows, They used to play with the Weirdos, The Go-Go’s and the Germs, and a few Zeros singles are now considered as valued collectors’ items.
In the ‘80s, the band broke up since guitarist Robert Lopez became the famous Mexican Elvis, El Vez, and Javier joined his brother Alejandro Escovedo in the True Believers (while also pursuing a solo career). If the name is familiar, it’s certainly because the entire family share a music talent: two other Escovedo brothers recorded with Santana and Herbie Hancock, and niece Sheila E is of course well known for her work with Prince. The Zeros have reunited a few times, the first time being in the early ‘90s, then in 2010 and a bit later, but this rare show at El Cid had gathered some die-hard fans inside the intimate venue.
And their set was a raucous one, beer was spilled, people were pushed against the stage during catchy fast-tempo choruses. They had two-voice harmonies over possessed surf-guitar solos, and if I tell you that all this was often reminiscent of the good old days of the Ramones, that certainly would not be a very original comparison, but try to listen to songs like ‘Beat Yer Heart Out’, or ‘Wild Weekend’ without thinking about the Ramones! They covered the Standells’ Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White’, then played a few songs of their comeback album ‘Knockin’ Me Dead’ (and the only one you will find on Spotify), doing ‘Getting Nowhere Fast’ without even taking a pause.
If the band has changed since its debut, the current lineup still has Baba Chenelle on drums whereas Victor Penalosa replaces his brother and original bassist Hector Penalosa. Although I have no way to compare, their chemistry sounded excellent and people looked at them as their best reincarnation.
The Zeros had many come backs and they may be considered as legends, but didn’t act like ones, their set distilled a real ‘60s pop sensibility mixed with 70s melodious punk, while the songs should not have sounded this familiar, for the simple reason that I had never heard them! There are many forms of punk rock these days, or at least many bands that pretend to do punk rock, but, on Friday night, the Zeros played the purest and most straightforward form of all.