Culture, Live Reviews — January 22, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Live review: Rodrigo y Gabriela in Hong Kong


Rodrigo and Gabriela

Rodrigo y Gabriela
January 9th, 2013
HITEC, Kowloon Bay
Hong Kong

She keeps the beat by banging her guitar in between tight bursts of frantic picking.

He’s more intricate while playing guitar, fingers flying along with the speed of thrash band and the precision of Clapton.

Together they’re Rodrigo y Gabriela, a duo who mesmerized a surprisingly full all-ages standing room only crowd at Hong Kong’s HITEC. It was a set that blended modern Cuban rhythms with instrumental songs from their four studio albums. And from the start until the end—nearly 20 songs and an hour and 45 minutes later—the Mexican duo charmed an audience who couldn’t refrain from dancing to the incessant chords that rang out.

In a word, they were good, but that’s not really doing them justice. The duo, who performed in Mexican metal bands before honing their unique skills while busking in Dublin, have a knack for playing a wide variety of genres. At times, Rodrigo Sanchez played snatches of Hendrix riffs before morphing straight into the sleazy sounds of a 70s Blaxploitation film. During other moments, it was Gabriela Quintero’s turn to lose herself in a thick funk riff that could have supplied the energy for platform shoe grooving on a hundred dance floors.

Their stage patter was kept to a minimum—Gabriela launched into exuberant broken English while expressing the duo’s love for the Hong Kong audience before them. Rodrigo looked intensely—and possibly proudly—at the crowd while he was racing his fingers across the strings. During their respective solos one gained an appreciation for each of their respective skills. Rodrigo surely has more innate talent, but without Gabriela’s sense of rhythm this duo wouldn’t have played before US Presidents or gone on talk shows around the world.

Pianist Alex Wilson guested for several songs when the group showcased selections from their most recent Cuban album. At times, this foray felt out of place amidst the near metallic thrashing that the group bashed out during much of their set. But eventually, it settled into a groove reminiscent of Tangerine Dream or Brian Eno—intriguing, but still out of place.

The encores however, were an ecstatic return to form. They started with their third and final new song of the night, followed by two well worn classics: “Hanuman” and “Tamacun”—both tracks that could easily be the soundtrack to a concluding shootout in an El Mariachi sequel.

The opening chords of AC/DC’’s “For Those About To Rock” rang out as the group left the stage, a fitting tribute for the duo’s intentions and as heavy as they would sound if they traded in their acoustic-bombs for an even louder variety. Rodrigo y Gabriela: a duo who pack more loud grooves into a set than a dozen metal acts.


Check the live video from Hong Wrong:


Rodrigo y Gabriela on Facebook, Twitter and Deezer.


By Scott Murphy

Scott Murphy is Head Writer at SIREN FILMS – a HK based independent production and creative house.