Tuesday, December 18

Considering the Rodrigo Y Gabriela concert

I did not come into my five months in Munich expecting much or even with plans. The general idea was to take advantage of those this unique stay in Europe and try as many new things as possible. Thus, I finally ended up attending my first proper concerts: Bloc Party, of which I have already written, and Rodrigo Y Gabriela. As an aside, I find it rather funny that my first concerts are attended in Germany but neither are German groups. Bloc Party hails from London, and Rodrigo Y Gabriela came out of Mexico by way of Ireland. Good grief, except for a “Wie geht es euch?” from Matt Tong of Bloc Party, the bands did not even try to speak German. Hooray for globalization and all that jazz, I suppose.

Anyway, Rodrigo Y Gabriela. My second concert. Rodrigo and Gabriela are an acoustic guitar playing duo. They met as members of Terra Acida, a thrash metal band in Mexico, and were discovered while busking in Ireland by Damien Rice. The world owes Mr. Rice a hearty clap on the back for that. They are amazing in every musical sense. Their talent and skill are undeniable, and their music is soulful and infectious. This is not music that just plays in the background. It captures your attention like that bombshell you pass on the street and causes you to nearly stumble over yourself when you turn to get that second look and confirm that God loved the world enough to create her. If you hear Rodrigo Y Gabriela, even in passing, you are not human if you do not find yourself tapping your foot or giving in to the rhythm in the least. Even more, their sound is unique. It is not flamenco, it is not rock, and it is definitely not the same three chords by some talentless fool with a pretty face. It is entirely their own. Rodrigo does the melody, and Gabriela takes care of harmony and rhythm. Yes, percussion, and as great as their sound is, it hits the mind-blowing level when you actually see what they have to do with their hands to create this sound. Kind of like that Yngwie Malmsteen guy, you lose the experience without the visual. You want an idea? Check out these live clips of Tamacun and Diablo Rojo and Stairway to Heaven on YouTube.

I love those clips. I appreciated the skill of Rodrigo and Gabriela still more after seeing them live. It is unfortunate that the clips only give the barest sense of the concert. Of course the atmosphere is charged, completely different from a solo listen in your room, but your impression of their skill only pulls a gold medal jump when they keep the insanity up for a solid two hours and their encore shreds even more than their opening set.

The music and performance alone made the 16 Euro ticket, 45-minute delay and last-minute change of venue more than worth it. The kicker, though, lay in their answer to a complaint I had raised earlier that day. There is too much irony in the world. All we participants in this postmodern Western world have is a feigned appreciation for anything because to actually care about something is to leave ourselves open to derision. I could and likely will write a post on this sometime, dropping the level of direness, but let us let it stand at that. For now. To return to the point, Rodrigo Y Gabriela’s concert was delightfully free of it all. Rodrigo took multiple bathroom breaks between songs and ran the frets with a bottle of Beck’s in one hand for one song. Gabriela’s related the story behind their song “FUIO,” or some such acronym. It was honest and devoid of any pretension. Come on, they were taking song requests within fifteen minutes. Best of all, perhaps, was when Gabriela started head banging and flashing the devil horns. She is the first person I have ever seen do that non-ironically, and it was wonderful.

I have only a single complaint, having forgiven the previously mentioned delay. The dual punches of Bloc Party and Rodrigo Y Gabriela, excellent live performers who are still fresh and exciting, as my first concerts has spoiled me. All future concerts are doomed to fall short of the great googly balls of perfect that these were.

Should you desire a second opinion on this concert, especially from someone who can write intelligently on the technical skill of the duo with the appropriate vocabulary, check out this post by my friend Emmett, who delayed his trip to Munich a week in order to catch the concert. Also, I introduced him to their music. I take his appreciation for their sound as a sign of great taste in music on my part.


Emmett said...

Ooh, Chris. How long have we known each other and you still misspell my name?

Emmett said...

Oh, and 95% of the time, Rodrigo just does the melody and some rhythm and Gabriela is the one doing the harmony and the majority of the rhythm. Other than that, good post. :)