Rodrigo y Gabriela | Hollywood Bowl | July 14, 2013


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Most of the time, my lust to see a band perform live is satiated once it happens.  After all, the costs of concert going these days can get quite expensive, and I typically like to use my hard earned cash experiencing something new, rather than retread the same territory. There are a handful of acts that I’ve seen perform live, however, that I would gladly pay what I could afford to see perform. One of those acts is Rodrigo y Gabriela .

On July 14, 2013, I went to see them for the third time; the second time at the Hollywood Bowl– one of the best concert going venues in Los Angeles. The other time I saw them perform was at the Orpheum Theatre.  And for the third time, they blew me away. It was another KCRW sponsored concert event.

My friends and I boarded the Hollywood Bowl shuttle from Westwood, prepared with our evening picnic essentials (sandwiches, wines, cheese, crackers, etc) and settled into out seats adjacent to the box seats.  The angle and view was terrific, and I couldn’t have asked for a better location.

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The first act of the evening was a band Lord Huron, an American indie folk band based in Los Angeles. Lord Huron began as a solo project by Ben Schneider in the spring of 2010, and they have released several EPs and a full-length album since. Their sound was a perfect starter as the sun set into the hill behind us. Their music seemed to be a folksier and more mellow version of Local Natives and the audience seemed to appreciate the sounds as they dined on their picnic foods and sipped wine from their plastic cups.

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The second act was a band that I had just started to listen to name Devotchka. A quartet formed and based out of Denver, CO, their music was exotic and impassioned. Backed by a sting ensemble, their gypsy-tinged melodies added a certain flavor to the evening.  Almost like setting the stage for the exotic. The lead vocalist, Nick Urata had a certain swagger to his performance that made me think his musical personal was a cross between Andrew Bird and Morrissey. Free and light, like Andrew Bird at times, and deep and emotive like Morrissey at others. His suit and hair styling also may have influenced my first impression of him, but I digress.

Devotchaka’s style of music covered a wide gamut of styles, hinting at elements rock, folk, cabaret, eastern European, etc. It was an exotic set of sounds and music that proved to me that KRCW certainly knows how to put a concert bill together, as Devotchka seemed like a very appropriate appetizer for the main course. 

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The last time I saw Rodrigo y Gabriela at the Hollywood Bowl, they performed backed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Was I worried that they wouldn’t be able to fill out the sound of the Hollywood Bowl without the orchestral accompaniment? Not at all. In fact, they duet performance (altered as a trio with a keyboard for only several selections) showcased their unbelievable talent on the acoustic guitars.  On exhibit that evening, the audience saw their raw virtuosity and dexterousness around the strings of their guitars.

For me, there is something special about Rodrigo y Gabriela that makes them a band that I’ll always want to go see when they are in town. Their music, like Devotchka’s, is fusion of styles that are put together so masterfully, one can’t help by call it art.  Rodrgio y Gabriela are unlike any other band I can think of that mixes elements of metal, jazz, flamenco and psychedila so effortlessly. It’s music that appeals to such a wide audience.

Watching them perform is also treat.  One become mesmerized by they way they perform.  They perform with such intensity and such joy, that it’s hard not be transfixed in their motions. I would have loved to dance around to the music, but personally, I just want to watch them perform.

I wanted to watch Rodrigo take his rock-star, stride stance as he plucked away at the strings, nodding his heads like a metronome to the rhythm.  I wanted to watch Gabriela’s hands and fingers move about her guitar like spiders hopped up on speed, all while dancing and bouncing about on stage. Even on acoustic guitars, their performance had such aggressive feel; it reminded me of some heavy metal shows I’ve attended.  At the same time, the sounds that emanated from their instruments were the sublime of the sublime.

And how can one not be hypnotized at the dizzying speed at which they play? To me, it simply amazing that that music … that much sound … comes out of four hands.

When I go to concerts, I want to be amazed. If you amaze me beyond comprehension, I’ll go see you every time you’re in town. This is why I went to see Rodrigo y Gabriela perform for a third time, and that is why I’ll keep seeing them perform live whenever given the chance.

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Oh … and I love Gabriela. Just saying…

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