Rodrigo y Gabriela | 02.09 | SF

Words by: Robyn Rubinstein | Images by: Forrest Hirtzel

Rodrigo y Gabriela :: 02.09.08 :: The Warfield :: San Francisco, CA

Rodrigo y Gabriela :: 02.09 :: SF, CA
It is often in the inconceivable that true genius tends to hang out. It seems largely implausible that a mere two acoustic guitars can create a driving, pulsating wall of sound that easily rivals any full rock band. It also seems equally as unfeasible that Hispano-classical folk music, thrash metal and classic rock could find any semblance of common ground. Yet, despite the unlikelihood, these elements combine into the incendiary duo that is Rodrigo y Gabriela. En fuego doesn't even begin to cover this pair.

Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero are natives of Mexico City who, like many of their peers growing up there, were largely raised on bands like Metallica, Pantera and Megadeth. The two met in the thrash metal band Tierra Acida. After seven years of what they describe as "the Spinal Tap lifestyle" in a working metal band, they had somewhat of a musical re-awakening that kindled their desire to make a new kind of music that was uniquely their own. They left Mexico, traveled around Europe and eventually settled in Dublin, Ireland. From their near penniless busker beginnings in 1999, they gradually grew into the anomalous phenomenon they are today, a two person sonic A-Team that sold out The Warfield.

My initial thought was that if Paco de Lucia, Al Di Meola and all the members of Black Sabbath combined their DNA, then did a little in vitro fertilization with one of Patti Smith's eggs, the result would be Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Rodrigo y Gabriela :: 02.09 :: SF, CA
It sounds like flamenco metal but the pair bristles at the flamenco descriptions. "To many music fans, it sounds like flamenco, and we're great flamenco fans, but we don't play it," says Quintera. "The only similarity is that our music is guitar music and it's very rhythmic" ( There is one more similarity. The staggering, lightning-fast percussive skill that Quintera exhibits on her guitar evokes a simmering passion that is very similar to flamenco, peppered by the wrath of metal, complete with the copious and fitting use of the devil horn, rocking out gesture. Rodrigo y Gabriela incorporated several hard rock clich├ęs that all seemed perfectly fitting and entirely un-ironic.

The crowd of San Francisco hipsters reveled in every one. Through the light show and smoke effects during "Orion," a Metallica cover that I never imagined could sound so lush, I could see heads banging up and down, though perhaps at a fraction of their standard velocity. When the audience sang for the entirety of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," there were elevated lighters mixed in with cell phones. The epic re-working of Zep's "Stairway To Heaven" was met with rapt attention and explosive response. They strongly encouraged clapping on "Tamacun" and "Viking Man," and though I generally think friends shouldn't let friends clap, this was definitely an appropriate use of crowd participation. It was thunderous and on-beat. When does that happen? Sanchez indulged in some wah pedal, seemingly the only inorganic effect they used. The symbiosis between crowd and performer was evident. Their onstage energy was without affectation, expressing their genuine love for their fans and their bonafide hard rock souls. "We don't have a fucking setlist or anything," Sanchez told the audience. "So what do you want to hear?"

Rodrigo y Gabriela combines the soul of metal with their native Mexico and let it wail through their acoustic instruments. It's virtuosity, innovation and love for music at its best.

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[Published on: 2/22/08]

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moephishH2O starstarstarstarstar Fri 2/22/2008 02:42PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Caught them in Portland @ the Crystal Ballroom and they blew me away! GO SEE THESE TWO!! They covered 'one' and 'orion' and 'wish you were here'--rodrigo played slide w/ a freakin' beer bottle!

CaptKirk starstarstarstarstar Fri 2/22/2008 03:57PM
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I saw Rod y Gab at 'Roo last year and it was easily the best show of the entire weekend. They blew everyone away. The crowd sang the whole Pink Floyd song. The energy from Rod y Gab and from the crowd was contagious. If you ever have a chance to go see them...DO IT! YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!

hnkscrpio Fri 2/22/2008 04:58PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


What is so impressive about playing slide with a beer bottle? It's a round glass object, thats what a slide is. Old poor blues musicians used to do it all the time. Sorry if I came of like a jerk, just curious.

moephishH2O Fri 2/22/2008 05:11PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


^ just kinda cool to see it. Never seen it before.. that's all.

sven2388 Fri 2/22/2008 07:47PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

when I walked into red rocks to see yonder with fishman they were opening and were playing Orion. I used to be a huge metallica fan and I loved this song and I could'nt believe these guys. and yes the whole crowd there also sang wish you were here

brewer247 Sat 2/23/2008 11:54AM
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Saw them in Denver. They sold out the Fillmore! Rockin' show. One of the best in a while for me!!!!!

TXfarmhouse starstarstar Sun 2/24/2008 07:03AM
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anyone know of taper copies out there?

jaghabpv starstarstarstarstar Sun 2/24/2008 10:34PM
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hey hnk - first of all slide is a cool style. second, its hard enough playing slide with a slide let alone with a beer bottle instead. third, you try to play slide with a heavy ass beer bottle and make it sound good then youll know why its impressive.

jjwood starstarstar Mon 2/25/2008 10:23AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I cannot comment on this show, but when I saw this duo open for

YMSB at Red Rocks, I found myself unmoved and bored. While

there is talent, I found their vision to be all flash,

little substance, and even less soul. There's a big difference

between playing licks and saying something with them, and I found

them to say very little. Not to mention the "Wish You Were Here"

thing was completely cheesy and contrived! If you dig the duo, do

so to the fullest...they're just not for me.