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Over the Weekend

I Spent Friday Night Drinking Beer and Seeing Bands at the Zoo

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Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 8:00 AM
click to enlarge The Steelwells - BEN WESTHOFF
  • Ben Westhoff
  • The Steelwells

My wife and I went to "Brew at the Zoo" on Friday night. We and scads of beer aficionados -- which I call bullshit on, but more on that later -- sampled "craft" beers, peered at animals and saw some music. It wasn't Friday night jazz at LACMA, but it was something.

Many, many people paid $40 for a four ounce glass and a handful of drink tickets; apparently these types of events are extremely popular at zoos around the country. Our first stop was the "Meerkats & Micro-Brews" area. No meerkats that I saw, but there were Tijuana Panthers, the local garage rockers whose guitarist you can tell belongs to the retro genus by the product in his combed-back hair.

I identified exactly eight people who were actively listening, a couple of whom may have come specifically for the band -- who, by the way, are quite good and will be playing FYF. Everyone else was in line for Death Valley Pale Ale, and no one could really clap because their hands were full of beer. The trio members didn't seem bummed, however; one suspects it was a well-paid gig, and jamming around dusk on a cool August night probably beats a frat party.

Then again, the crowd was kinda brah-y, or grown-up brah-y, more like, the age at which one eschews Miller Lite branded inflatable La-Z-Boys for a home-brewing kit or, even worse, one of those books explaining the difference between a stout and a porter. I mean, I like a good IPA as much as anyone, but please let's not talk about brewing processes or barley. Even those damn Clydesdale tours in St. Louis make the yeast fermentation (or whatever) (gross) sound all rarefied, but at the end of the night you're still pissing briskly into a urinal next to a guy in sandals.

My wife was worried about the music disturbing the animals, something I laughed about when she said it, but indeed the KROQ booth was uncomfortably close to the Asian elephant. "Here in my car/ I feel safest of all" was playing, a song that is kind of a Kraftwerk rip-off when you think about it, but not as good. The elephant would only show us her butt. At the orangutan cage was a sign threatening to expel you for disturbing the primates, ironic considering how loud the evening's affair was.

Power pop group The Steelwells played at the "Elephants & Ales" area, in front of a yellow cut-out of an elephant (above), with zoological facts in English and Spanish. My wife really liked them, and so did I. A couple of alt-y girls were floating around, and one guy who seemed to know some of their lyrics was shooting the performance on his camera phone. That footage must be amazing!

Me to my wife: "They sounded a bit like Built to Spill there at the end."

She to me: "Yeah, maybe."

We waited about fifteen minutes for four ounces of a Belgian plum beer that was terrible, and then a band called Heartstop came on. Their bassist wore a v-neck shirt and shoes that looked like he'd spent a lot of time picking them out. "This sounds like one of those bands you hear on the radio all the time," my wife said. (She didn't mean KCRW.)

It was almost time to leave. Near the exit, a band called Upstream did their thing. When we'd arrived they'd been on break, and the lead singer had told me they played reggae and calypso. This turned out to be a euphemism for "Bob Marley covers," and as they ripped into "No Woman No Cry" we knew it was time to leave. Sure hope they got paid cruise ship money.

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