Acoustic Souls | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Acoustic Souls

Rodrigo y Gabriela play well together

Rodrigo y Gabriela don't just make beautiful music together, they are beautiful music together. As an acoustic guitar duo out of Mexico City, their guitars complement each other flawlessly and create a wall of sound in which to get lost. Their acoustic guitars feel propulsive in a way acoustic guitars rarely have the chance to be.

Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero were raised in middle-class households where they were exposed to flamenco, jazz and rock, but it was metal that brought them together. They met at the House of Culture in Mexico City when they were both 15, bonded over music and started dating soon after. Rodrigo formed a metal band in the early 1990s, and when that fell through in 1997, the two left Mexico City and eventually headed for Europe.

After traveling around, they settled in Dublin in 1999, where they started opening for Damien Rice.

The album "re-Foc" was released in 2002 as a re-recorded and expanded release of their original 9-track demo record. They are accompanied by violin, bass and percussion, which add a texture to their music that it doesn't always have.

Their self-titled debut was released in 2006, making it to the very top of the charts in Ireland. Along with excellent originals, the album has a cover of "Stairway to Heaven" that gives pause to anyone complaining about Zeppelin covers. The album blends Spanish, jazz and rock to create a genre that feels solely their own. The Latin guitar is prevalent, but their love of Metallica and Megadeth shines through not just in their covers but in the aggressive way Rodrigo attacks the guitar and Gabriela shreds the guitar-top hand percussion.

"11:11" was released in 2009 on the indie label Rubyworks. In a nod to their deep and abiding love of metal, "11:11" was mixed by Colin Richardson, who's also worked with Slipknot and Trivium. While the album has shades of Latin artists like Jorge Reyes, there are also shades of Santana, Metallica and even Pink Floyd throughout. Rodrigo's picking on the track "Hora Zero" is some of the most virtuosic guitar playing to be released on any record I've heard. The album is fast, furious and, truthfully, flawless. This is the record where I wondered what a thrash metal album from the duo would contain—and then wept for its non-existence.

In 2012 Rod and Gab did an album collaboration for the first time with "Area 52," a team-up with the Cuban orchestra C.U.B.A. The album is comprised entirely of re-recordings of previously released songs, but the addition of C.U.B.A. makes their music explode even more. The presence of horns and percussion gives Rod and Gab's music a decidedly more Latin flavor, but really, it's only shedding light on what was already there.

Their most recent record, 2014's "9 Dead Alive" forgoes most of the Latin flavor for an altogether darker and blues-ier vibe. There is something guttural about the record that makes it feel overwhelmingly personal for the listener as well as the artists.

Rodrigo y Gabriela have made beautiful music together for two decades, and seeing them live only allows for a minor peek into the depth and breadth of their genius together.

Their guitars don't just play together; they speak in a way that language can't begin to define.

Rodrigo y Gabriela

Thursday, Aug. 4, 7pm

Peak Summer Nights Bend Athletic Club, 61615 Athletic Club Dr., Bend


About The Author

Jared Rasic

Film critic and author of food, arts and culture stories for the Source Weekly since 2010.
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