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Kicking the Shit Out of My Expectations

20 Aug

Rodrigo y Gabriela, First Avenue Mainroom, 8/18/08

The first thing that popped into my head once Gabriela Quintero began playing her guitar was, “ow.” The way she pounded out the percussive sound with her knuckles while attacking the strings on her guitar was one of the most amazing, yet painful-looking, things I’d ever seen. Sadly, I’m forced to admit I expected more stereotypical flamenco music, or even just some sort of Gypsy Kings redux. While that influence is certainly there, it cannot be used to define even the majority of the band’s sound. Rodrigo y Gabriela pound out the most beautiful hard rock acoustic guitar my ears have ever absorbed. Of course, it should have told me something when the band’s ‘Links‘ page includes the websites for Metallica, Megadeath and Slipknot.

Rodrigo Sanchez began in the spotlight, and stayed there most of the night. Not undeserved, but most of the time it was Quintero’s fingers of fire that kept me mesmerized. I haven’t seen that sort of magic in a long time. After the second or third number, a large screen backlit the duo with a live video feed of hands on their guitars, or close ups of the strings being strummed by fingers that knew where to go without being told. The video accentuated the effortless fluttering of both players and energized the crowd. It was interesting to see people alternating thrusts of fists and the “rock on” symbol into the air, while others focused on some version of the salsa on the pit floor.

Rodrigo y Gabriela seem to have performed at every festival this summer, and I completely understand why. The pair are lovely and intriguing. They play rock music. Ok, not just rock music, but metal… on acoustic guitars! They mix it with traditional Mexican influences – and a bit of their now-home in Dublin, Ireland seeps in there too. Sounds like a melting pot, doesn’t it? Well, it is, and it’s amazing.

Download mp3:
Diablo Rojo

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