In the early 1990s, Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero met playing in a metal band in their native Mexico City. After a record deal fell through, the platonic couple found themselves busking on the streets of Dublin. After the 2006 release of their self-titled album, the duo found themselves being thrust into international fame: performing all over the world, on the soundtrack to Pirates of The Caribbean and Puss In Boots, even performing for President Obama at the White House.
On Sunday evening, this duo stampeded through the Strathmore Concert Hall to a sold out concert. The final concert on their 5-week American tour was a precursor to a new studio album being recorded this fall for a spring 2014 release. To serious music fans, Rodrigo y Gabriela do not need an introduction. In their career, they have achieved what some artists hope to achieve in their entire lifetime. This duo is a powerhouse. Throughout the evening, they spoke briefly about their history and how they classify their music. They mentioned that articles categorize them as flamenco, but they are far from it. They invented their own genre of music. If I had to label them, and they are beyond labels, I would say that they were Latin-flavored, metal-inspired, acoustic/percussive rock.
Knowing that they come from a metal band background, I can hear that background in their heavy and nuanced playing. One of their most famous pieces, “Diablo Rojo” is a hard percussive piece, with Gabriela playing her instrument like a drum, using the deep wood of the guitar to create a thunderous rhythm that echoes through the inside and creates a loud boom to accompany her strumming and picking.
The entire concert was a series of elite performances. Each played a virtuoso solo, but they were mesmerizing when they were in harmony with each other. The ease that they move their fingers up and down the frets has perfect technique and a ferocious passion.
In addition to the headline performers, the opening act was singer-songwriter, Zach Heckendorf. The 19-year old Colorado native is reminiscent of a young John Mayer, with an affinity for Ray Charles music. He was the perfect way to get the crowd warmed up for the headliners, and his original pieces were heartfelt and moving. We have not heard the last of this young up-and-comer. I look forward to hearing more of his music in the future.
Back to the main act, Rodrigo y Gabriela were accompanied on stage by a fierce light show and they rightfully gave a special shout out to their technical crew. From the perfectly choreographed lights, to the live camera projecting black and white video of their fingers, the entire evening was made even more entertaining than I could have possibly envisioned.
Rodrigo y Gabriela have played the Warner Theatre and Wolf Trap, and now adding Strathmore to their resume, I suspect by the way the crowd was one their feet at the end, that they will return, hopefully to promote their upcoming album, and I look forward to dancing in the aisles again when they return.
Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes, with one intermission.
Rodrigo y Gabriela played for one night only on August 4, 2013 at The Music Center at Strathmore – 5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. For future events at Strathmore, check out their calendar of events.