Concert Review – Rodrigo y Gabriela at Ravinia (with guest Rocco DeLuca)

Rodrigo y GabrielaThis weekend it was our first chance to see Rodrigo y Gabriela, the Mexican guitar duo with eclectic musical tastes that synthesize them into a Latinized metal style.  The duo is currently supporting their new release, 11:11, which I previously reviewed.

Over the past couple of years, my fascination with the duo has increased for a number of reasons.  The duo’s musical tastes are much like my own.  But Rodrigo and Gabriela’s musical path are very different since they don’t have collegiate training, and I have yet to go to Ireland. Regardless of musical beginnings, the bottom line is on this particular evening our musical paths intersected for a couple of hours.

Since the duo was first discovered in Ireland, RyG’s fame has exploded.  Based on the turnout and response at Ravinia, the duo is hovering close to mega international stardom.

The evening began with special guest, Rocco DeLuca.  Prior to this evening, I’d never heard of DeLuca, and I now I know why.  Although, the music wasn’t entirely dreadful, what made it painful to watch was the lack of audience interaction and the faces of sheer boredom across the audience.  DeLuca appeared overwhelmed by the size of the audience in attendance, which was likely amplified by the apparent shyness of the singer-songwriter.

Performing 30 minutes of dark, slow blues, DeLuca sung music from his newly recorded album, title unknown.  His voice was rather nice, but was unfortunately buried under an electric bass drum, for which he stomped away while strumming his hallow-bodied guitar.  The somber pace never changed and neither did his painful use of artificial drums.

After a 30 minute break, Rodrigo y Gabriela instantly brought the crowd back to life opening with “Hanaman”, the opening track on 11:11.  This ignited about an hour and forty minutes of guitar heaven. The audience’s mood instantly changed when the main act hit the stage creating a heavy metal concert atmosphere.  Perhaps it is reflection of the duo’s metal roots since they both stood in spread-eagle rock guitar stance for much of the show.

The majority of the concert consisted of music from the recent release, but RyG mixed in songs from the first self-titled album.  In particular, “Diablo Rojo” and an arrangement of Metallica’s “Orion” were a couple of highlights of the show.  It became clear during Gabriela’s solo precisely why she serves as the rhythm section between the two.  To put it bluntly, she is a badass.  Don’t get me wrong, Rodrigo can jam too, proven during his own solo, but the Flamenco-like rhythms Gabriela produces are quite difficult and demand serious endurance to do for hours.

By the end of the night, one thing was made crystal clear: Rodrigo and Gabriela really have a good time on stage.  The duo loves their audience and the audience appreciates, admires and craves for the unique metal-Latinized sound.  No one really wanted the show the end, but to much chagrin it did.

In case you haven’t had a chance to see the duo, here is a little taste…

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2 comments on “Concert Review – Rodrigo y Gabriela at Ravinia (with guest Rocco DeLuca)
  1. It is quite painful for me to read your remarks about Rocco DeLuca, though I have no doubt that they are true. I know Rocco DeLuca (and his band, The Burden) since 2005 when they played a show in Berlin, Germany. I love his music very very much. Especially his second Album, called “MERCY” is a beautiful piece of work, produced by Daniel Lanois, I recommend it from the bottom of my heart. It contains “dark” bluesy folk songs as well as good ol’ Rock’n Roll. Actually, it pulls you thru all kinds of emotion, this is what makes it so special for me.
    Right now, Rocco is on a solo mission, and for this kind of music, I guess the Ravinia venue isn’t the right place to perform for him. With his full band, it would be great to see him at Ravinia though, together they put on a kick-ass Rock’n Roll show, trust me. I’ve seen them perform overhere in Europe: in Berlin, London, Birmingham and also in Houston, TX, and they blew me out of my sox.
    I was lucky enough to see his solo performances this year at Hotel Café (Los Angeles), Saint Rocke (Hermosa Beach) and The Casbah (San Diego), and those were the right spots.
    Rocco’s beautiful solo folk songs require such an intimate venue, then you can really enjoy his voice in its full beauty and marvel about this “old beauty” he plays, a National Duolian steel guitar from around 1930.
    sorry for the long comment on the opening act…Rodrigo and Gabriel are on my “to do” list for a live concert for sure!
    Greetings from Germany, sabine

    • Thanks Sabine for the information. Rocco did have some good moments, but I think his music would indeed work better in smaller venue. Ravinia is outdoors and balance is sometimes an issue. I think that was one of the issues for his set. The guitar was buried under the bass drum. Frankly, the bass drum was unnecessary. Also, at end of his set, he could have done more with the crowd. He bowed and walked off with his head down. He seems like shy, quiet individual that just didn’t appear comfortable in front of a big crowd. However, I will search for his albums and take a listen. Some musicians just aren’t great performers.

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