Daily Archives: 4 October, 2011

From the ticket stub bin – Rodrigo y Gabriella

Today’s Music: Groovelily


Every so often, I hear a new band that makes me stop what I’m doing and listen.
One band like that was Rodrigo y Gabriella. The first time I heard their debut CD, it was all I could listen to. I’d been taking guitar lessons at the time, and I went between wanting to play like them, and just thinking I should put it down and give up.

Rodrigo and Gabriella had been in a speed metal band that broke up. They picked nylon sring acoustic guitars, went to Ireland and started busking, developing a style that was a combination of speed metal and classical guitar, with flamenco flares. The result is astounding.
So when they announced dates at Terminal 5 in Manhattan, I made sure I got tickets.
Terminal is a good sized room (capacity ~3000), with 2 balconies and plenty of bars. No seats, and the crowd gets a bit sloppy (watch where you step!)
The night of the show, I met my girl (the most wonderful girl in the universe!) for a quick dinner nearby, and we went over to the venue.
It was packed. Sold out.
The main floor was wall to wall bodies, as were the balconies. Not sure how full the rooftop smoking lounge was, but everything inside was full.
There was an opener. I don’t remember who the opener was. That’s a good thing, as the opener wasn’t good at all.
Then Rodrigo and Gabriella came out.
Just the two of them, on their two classical guitars. Beating. The. Hell. Out of them.
They were really good. At times their hands were moving faster than my eyes could easily track. Rodrigo was stretching the individual strings, doing leads over intricate chord and rhythm patterns Gabriella was pounding out. And she was also working in slaps of her guitar top, doing rhythm guitar and percussion at the same time!
They played through the whole album, but the highlight of the show for me was Gabriella’s solo.
Rodrigo did his solo, then left the stage and Gabriella came back on by herself. She started off slowly, speeding up as her chord changes grew more complex and her strumming hand also drummed the guitar top faster and faster between strums.
Then, and this is what really blew me away, she laid her head down on the side of her guitar and kept playing, even faster and more intricately.
I’ve never seen anything like that. Her entire body was attuned to and focused on her guitar. Her music was transcendent, going beyond a performance to almost a religious experience.
When she slowed down and finally stopped, smiling out at the crowd, the room exploded in applause.
Rodrigo came back out, and the two of them played the rest of the set, which was incredible.
All told, they did about an hour and forty five minutes, a decent length set.

But if they had only done twenty minutes, and that twenty minutes was Gabriella’s solo, that would have been worth the price of admission.