They're best-known for their Mexican-flavored music, but Los Lobos reiterated Wednesday night at the Minnesota Zoo why they're one of the most American of rock bands out there -- and perennial summer favorites in Minnesota.

The Grammy-winning East Los Angeles vets perform just about every year in Apple Valley for the zoo's outdoor music series. This year, they're playing two nights, the only 2010 act doing so. Limited tickets remain for Thursday's show.

No wonder they're a hot summer ticket. Wednesday's nearly two-hour set featured a cross-section of music genres as wide as the animal kingdom at the zoo.

Together since 1973, the band opened with the straight-up, vintage, muscle-car-worthy rockers "Evangeline" and "Shakin' Shakin' Shakes," then slid right into the slower, Leonard Cohen-like dirge "The Valley," and then struck up the Latino dance romp "Chuco's Cumbia." Then came one of the highlights of this and maybe all their zoo shows: a country-style reading of the coming-to-America epic "One Time, One Night," for which the band invited up an 11-year-old from Chicago named Isabella Spinelli who nearly stole the show with her mountainous fiddle playing.

And that was just the first 20 minutes.

The concert kept on jumping around the map, from a New Orleans-funky "That Train Don't Stop Here" to the accordion-led conjunto/borderland danceathon "Maricela" to a heavy, nearly metallic version of "Angel Dance" (whose heaviness might have been in honor of Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant, who re-recorded the song for his upcoming album).

No matter what they played, the Lobos sounded as tight as any band out there. It was like watching LeBron James dunk or Kevin James eat. The exception was a rough attempt at two songs from a bluesy album due next month. Co-frontman David Hidalgo's struggles to read the new song lyrics prompted bassist Conrad Lozano to offer him his glasses.

Not surprisingly, with all that genre-skipping and more, the band had to overlook one of its best sides, its gorgeous acoustic ballads and anthems, which goes back to its early roots as a mariachi band. The guys might have to come here three nights next summer.

Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658