Alright, I promised a blog post about this concert in a tweet at the top of the night. Yes, thanks to the wonderful House Seats service, I attended Rodrigo y Gabriella tonight at the Joint in the Hard Rock Casino. The openers were local Las Vegas band named Searchlight. They played a 1/2 hour set, or the equivalent of five songs. It was fairly obvious on the second song that acoustic music is not their first choice of genres. The singer took about half the set to hear himself in the live hall. I’m talking sound-wise with all the reflections going around the room and then back on stage, not the audience. I think most of people were still arriving. His intonation got much better as the set went along. Particularly proud of their “storytelling” (yes, reference to the old MTV acoustic show), they forgot to plug their band name until the fourth song. I don’t care that the second song was featured on a Resident Evil: Extinction soundtrack if I don’t know your name. The guitar playing wasn’t anything spectacular, and the explanation of the songs I could’ve done without. The singer had the average rock-leaning-towards-metal raspiness which doesn’t translate too well in a live performance but would be great for a studio album. Ironically, at the end of the show they handed out free CD’s (more of an EP) of their music that currently sits in front of me, unplayed. The sound was average, and the lighting was well-below par due to the bad color changes (s/he was only using 4 lights!) and constant changing of the projected image. If I was rating them on a scale of music notes, they’d be a middle C for willingness to play outside of their comfort zone and commanding stage presence.
Changeover happens. It takes fifteen minutes to swap around the stage, and then we wait for another 15 minutes. It seemed like forever until Rodrigo y Gabriella took the stage. When they did, cheers of excitement from everywhere. From that point on, fingers and arms flew all over the guitars. For those of you who never heard RyG’s music… well… it’s a bit hard to explain. I’d say its flamenco meets metal with a bit of classic guitar thrown in for good measure. Rod’s fingers barely seem to touch the fretboard, while Gab pounded her strings with a hard, percussive sound. In many ways, she used the guitar like a bodhran, capable of producing sounds that I have never heard from a guitar. The music played fast and furious, stopping once to say hello and thanks to the audience. The two musicians seemed to intuitively know where to go next, often challenging each other with a bit of call-and-response fun. Each had five minutes of solo time, and Rod covered Led Zepplin’s Stairway to Heaven and then joined by Gab. The entire time they kept the audience involved by using hand claps of different rhythms, singing — rather mimicking the notes he played, and shouts. Gab seemed to often go into a trance-like state, resting her head on the base of the neck and bobbing to the beat. Technically, the sound was fabulous and only had a few very minor instances of feedback. The tiny cameras on the headstock were used for the projections and complimented the lighting perfectly. This show definitely takes the award for best sustained energy. Even though their set only lasted an hour and a half, it felt like a lot more time had passed due to the sheer speed of their fingers and hands.
For everything that happens on stage, there are always things happening in the audience. And this most certainly is one of my pet peeves. A man is standing behind me, and, as the show progresses, he drinks more and becomes louder and more belligerent. “They’re the best EVER!” “Don’t you think they’re good?” “Why aren’t you shouting? Don’t you like them?” He starts swinging his arms and hits my head. “You’re a poser.” C’mon, dude. Although my favorite line out of him for the evening: ” You know that Gab is an alcoholic, right? But she’s the best kind ’cause she goes where her heart tells her to.” Uh… yeah. I think that you’re speaking a truth about yourself, Mr. Drunk. Next time hold your liquor better or bring a friend along to shut you up and drag your ass out of the venue. A floating wall of tall former-frat boys stopped in front of me at one point, more concerned about their beer and jabbing each other than watching the show. I’m glad to say they moved on after 10 minutes. There was the guy who danced with his beer like he was dancing with a girl, and then the obligatory tongue-bath couple. Although, what amazed me the most was the fact that Rodrigo y Gabriella’s last song caused at least four beers to be dropped in the audience almost simultaneously, creating a lake of beer in the house right section. It’s cool to see music still affects people that way.