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Archive for the ‘Rodrigo y Gabriela’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RODRIGO Y GABRIELA-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #15 (April 28, 2020).

The only thing better than seeing Rodrigo y Gabriela live (which is amazing) is getting to see them up close just to be even more amazed by what they can do.

The Mexican duo known as Rodrigo y Gabriela travel the globe playing to crowds who are captivated by their almost telepathic acoustic guitar interplay. But they make their home in Mexico in a sunny Pacific beach town called Zihuatanejo (remember The Shawshank Redemption?). For this performance we get a peek at their home studio, where they surround themselves with guitars and dress down in sneakers and casual clothes. They run through tunes from throughout their recorded history, including a song they played at the Tiny Desk back in 2009. Rodrigo y Gabriela’s picking and strumming feel more relaxed than usual but maintains their intense focus.

“Tamacun” and “Diablo Rojo” come from their album Rodrigo y Gabriela (2006).  Rodrigo plays the amazing and catchy leads and it’s terrific to watch him.  But I think that Gabriela with her unconventional and at times mind-blowing rhythm section that is even better to watch.  I never quite know what she’s doing with her right hand.  Is she specifically hitting different strings with different fingers, or is it just an elaborate strum?

The percussive sound they both get on “Diablo Rojo” is fantastic.  That they can keep the song interesting while just hitting their guitars is so cool.

“Hanuman” is from the album 11:11.  Each song on that album is a tribute to an artist who has inspired them.  This is a tribute to Carlos Santana (whom they met after this song was released).

“Mettavolution” is the title track from their newest album.  I love that they are album to write so many instrumentals with just two acoustic guitars and have them all sound so different.  Near the end of this one Rodrigo says that normally they ask people to sing along (woah oh ohs), but since there’s no crowd, maybe you’ll sing along at home.

It’s hard not to.

[READ: April 25, 2020] “No. 13 Baby”

This is an excerpt from Barry’s novel Night Boat to Tangier.

I have mixed reactions to Barry’s stories.  I usually like the details, but sometimes the the overall story is too intense (I don’t especially like stories about drug dealers) .

Set in the Plaza de la Constitución in Spain, Maurice Hearne is waiting for someone. The man arrives and says Maurice needs to pay half of the money first before he can meet Karima.  Then the man tells him that he should have his head examined: Just forget these people, go back to Ireland and have some kiddies.

He called home to Cynthia to assure her that everything was going to be okay.  Then he went to meet Karima. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RODRIGO Y GABRIELA-NonCOMM (May 16, 2019).

The biggest shame of NonCOMM 2019 is that Rodrigo y Gabriela only got 19 minutes. Oh man, these two need an hour to show off everything they can do.  The other shame is that the person who wrote the blurb doesn’t know the song titles.

Normally their show–two people playing acoustic guitar–is a surprisingly loud and percussive affair.  Gabriela slaps her guitar and plays amazing drum-like sounds across the strings, while Rodrigo solos all over the fretboard.  Even though they play acoustic guitars, they have metal in their blood (they recently covered Slayer).

But this show is a rather quiet affair.  They begin with a quiet piece with a simple backing guitar line and a lead line that runs through the song.

Rodrigo y Gabriela may have started off their set with a soft, lullaby-ish tune, illuminated only by a single spotlight. But don’t get too comfortable with that mellow sound, beautiful as it is, because what followed after was a loud, jarring song that gave us a taste of what heavy metal might sound like if it could only be played with two guitars.

It segued into “Krotona Days” a heavy opening thuds before the two masters take off through fast and slow, loud and quiet.

Often standing face to face with their guitars in hand, Rodrigo y Gabriela engage in a conversation without any words, their narration punctuated by lighting perfectly selected to match each emotion. Even in the absence of lyrics, the listener is drawn into the band’s vulnerability; it’s as if they’ve invited us in as witnesses of their funky, fiery story as it unwinds song by song.

‘After Gabriela talks to everyone, they play “Electric Soul,” another quieter song.  Usually they are blowing our minds with speed, but here they demonstrate beautiful restraint.

The next song starts slowly, but after a build up of Gabriela’s percussive guitar it… returns to a quiet melody again including some harmonics.  I’m almost disappointed that they didn’t really do what they are known for, but this demonstration of a different side of them is pretty amazing too.

Most of these songs come from their new album Mettavolution, which features six original instrumental compositions, many of which we did get to hear.

They end the set with the titular song “Mettavolution.”  On the record it is a big loud raucous affair with loud pummeling chords to open.  It’s a bit more subdued here even if the main riff is still pretty intense.

I’m not sure why they chose to play so quietly, but it’s an interesting take on their music.

[READ: June 1, 2019] “On Impact”

When I was in high school, Stephen King was my favorite writer.  I read everything he’d written.  When I got to college I was really bummed that the school library had no Stephen King at all.  My freshman year I read the Tommyknockers and didn’t really like it and I think that was the last I’d thought about Stephen King.

At some point in the 1990s I read some of his newer books and remembered why I liked him so much.  Maybe I should go back and start all over again–will Salem’s Lot freak me out now as much as it did then?  I don’t know.

I don’t recall if I knew that he had been in a car accident.  I know I found out some years later (possibly when I read On Writing).  It’s also possible that this essay comes from that book.  It’s been 19 years, don’t remember, but I’m guessing the title of this is a nod to the book. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RODRIGO Y GABRIELA-“Echoes” (2019).

Rodrigo y Gabriela are amazing guitarists.  Rod plays amazing solos wile Gab plays an astonishing rhythmic counterpoint (both on acoustic).  Although they do play classical and Spanish styles (and so much more) they often mix heavy metal elements into their songs.  I have seen them twice live and they blew me away each time.

They are back with their first album in five years.  And they have just released a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” an 18 minute song that I just love.

And their version is utterly fascinating.  How do two guitarists plan to cover Pink Floyd?  Well, the beginning of the song is a great, recognizable riff, so they play that and Rod plays the vocal line when that comes around.

The middle of the original gets really trippy and kind of dark, with all kinds of synth sounds.  So what do Rod y Gab do?  They embrace what they do best–with Gab playing an incredible rhythm, Rod takes an opportunity to shuffle around in a solo (there’s certainly some looping overdubbing here).  The middle quiets down to them just scraping strings and pounding the guitar and splaying single echoing notes.  It’s not as dark as the original, but it’s still a weird and somewhat unsettling passage.

The song comes out of the middle darkness with  a rollicking solo and a huge buildup from both guitars.

It resumes the song and finishes much like the original in about 18 minutes.  It’s spectacular.

Learn more about it and watch the video here.

[READ: January 25, 2019] Cucumber Quest 2

It has been a while since I read Cucumber Quest 1, so details were a little fuzzy, but the humor of the book is still awesome (especially the way it undercuts hero tropes.

Cucumber wakes up on an island and as he is calling for his friends, he steps on a cell phone.  As he goes to use it, someone shouts NOOO!

It is a young female bunny creature arguing with a crab.  The crab (and all of the crabs) are crabby.  They doubt that she is Princess Nautilus even if she claims she is.  Cucumber takes out his magic wand and it actually works!   He saves her.  Woah.

She says he can call her Nautilus.  He suggests “How about Nautie for sh–” and then realizes what he said. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 14, 2017] Rodrigo y Gabriela

My friends Liz and Eleanor came to the Rod y Gab show back in 2014 and we were blown away.  So when I saw they were playing in the Count Basie Theater and that I could get seats in Row G, I snatched seats up for all four of us again.

The last time was just such a phenomenal experience that I knew I’d want to see them again.  And being up so close and really seeing everything they were doing was a really super phenomenal experience.

I don’t know the song titles and we kind of joked that the songs all sound the same (but amazing and strangely unique at the same time) so I didn’t worry too much about what they were playing, I just sat back and enjoyed it. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 14, 2017] Marc Scibilia

I hadn’t heard of Marc Scibilia before this show.  He did perhaps the most intelligent think I’ve seen an opening folkie act do.  He had a kick drum with his name on it.  He never played the drum, it was just there as a simple advertisement (my name is hard to spell, he explained).

When the show started (exactly on time), he came out on stage, walked up to the keyboard and started playing a song.  He didn’t say what it was, but possibly “Out of Style.”

It was good.  Kinda of dancey, but definitely rocking.  When the song was over he picked up an acoustic guitar and started playing a different song.  As he started playing he stomped on an electronic drum (it wasn’t the kick drum, because he was too far away and the drum head never vibrated–it was just one of those stomp drum things.  And that simple addition really made the folkie songs a lot more rocking.

And then he spoke to us. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 4, 2016] Kishi Bashi

2016-10-04-22-03-10This is our third time seeing Kishi Bashi, and our second time seeing him with our friends Liz and Eleanor.  We all saw him together the first time when he opened for Rodrigo y Gabriela.  And they were hooked just like we were.  They have since seen him with his string quartet, which we didn’t.  I’ve liked him so much solo that I didn’t know if I wanted to see others playing with him.  Well, Tuesday’s show was a full band and it was phenomenal.

He is an amazing solo performer with his loops and improv and his fantastic stage presence.  But when he has other people to play off of, he completely soars.  And, since he was the headliner, he added a great light show (and confetti!).  And it also mean that even though we had heard these songs live before, in this setting they were completely reworked and different.

Kishi Bashi’s newest album is the disco-infused Sonderlust in which he more or less switches from his signature violin to keyboards.  But the music, while quite different from his earlier records is still very Kishi Bashi–that voice and those melodies are unmistakable. (more…)

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[ATTENDED, July 30, 2014] Rodrigo y Gabriela

rodygabI first saw Rodrigo y Gabriela on a Tiny Desk Concert and I was blown away.  I knew I had to see these two live.  Rodrigo has a heavy metal background (I didn’t realize that Gabriela was in the heavy metal band Tierra Acida with him).  But even with that background, who knew that two people with acoustic guitars could be so loud!  And our seats were terrific, row S, dead center. Very nice indeed.

Holy smokes, the two of them came out and just blew us away.  They opened with “The Soundmaker” (and really that’s about all I can do in terms of order of songs).  And it sounded louder and more amazing than it does on record.  Although, minor gripe, Gabriela’s guitar has a microphone in it and the bass (which I gather she made by banging on the body of the guitar) was mixed way too loud for the first three songs.  They fixed that for the next batch and then they sounded phenomenal.

After the first three songs (which included a bit of “stairway to Heaven” done in their own style), Gabriela talked to us a bit (while the guitars were tuned, I assume), and then they went back to the music.

Their stage set with pretty minimal–some bright lights on little stands (which were very cool actually).  But it didn’t matter, the two of them are electric on stage–whether it’s Rodrigo’s heavy metal stances or Gabriela’s pogoing, they are in constant motion.  About midway through the show they started using the projection screen behind them (at least I didn’t see any before that).  In addition to some interesting imagery, they also projected close ups of their guitars (I think from small cameras in front of them and from small cameras on the heads of their guitars).  I enjoyed that the images were low res and that they were staticy from time to time–it took any kind of preciousness away and made it look less like they were showing of their virtuosity and more like an interesting image to watch.

After the second set of songs, Rodrigo did a solo section.  He played some very nice flamenco guitar and some rocking solo sections.  Even though he is an amazing guitarist I actually enjoyed this part of the show least because I like the way they play off each other more than I like them individually.

Later in the set Gabriela had a solo section.  Her solo was a bit more interesting to watch because I find her guitar playing style to be mesmerizing and completely incomprehensible.  I loved watching her right hand rapidly moving back and forth, using her fingers on the strings, batting the drum with her thumb or knuckles, and playing heavy rhythm like no one I’ve ever seen.  her hand must be one huge callous.

Some other songs they played were “Torito,” “Sunday Neurosis” (it was alarming when the spoken voices came out of the speakers) and “Misty Moses” (which I learned is dedicated to Harriet Tubman–I also learned that all of the songs on their new album are dedicated to an inspirational figure, guess I should read the liner notes, huh?).

They may have also played “Santo Domingo” (it’s hard to tell, I admit).  But they definitely played Metallica’s “Orion.”  When I first heard that they played Metallica songs, I was really surprised, and I couldn’t wait to hear their take on this instrumental.  And they played a great version of it.  But what I found was that this song was the weakest one in their entire set.  I’ve always liked Metallica’s lengthy instrumentals, but they don’t hold a candle to Rod y Gab’s original songs.

Speaking of covers, about 3/4 of the way through the show, Rodrigo did a “karaoke” section, which was lighthearted and a lot of fun.  He played Stone Temple Pilot’s “Plush” although he didn’t sing a word–the audience provided all the singing, which was really funny. About half way through, the audience lost the plot and he laughed and moved on to the next song, Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Breaking the Girl, which didn’t get quite as many singers (he had a microphone for this one, but gave up when not many people sang along).  He then admitted that they usually don’t play for such a sophisticated crowd (ie. we were sitting down–except for this one poor guy who tried to get everyone up to dance many times).  So he went for a song that this older generation might know (much laughter) and did Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” which was very well received until he sang “I forgot the fuckin lyrics” and we all laughed.  The final song in the karaoke section was Radiohead’s “Creep” which everyone enjoyed very much.

“Fram” and “The Russian Messenger” were also both amazing–by this time the audience was practically bouncing on our seats.

The ended the set with two encores: “Hanuman” and “Tamacun.”  By the encore everyone was on his feet and we were clapping and swaying like fools.  It was that kind of show.  Who would have thought that two guitars could produce so much.  Rod y Gab really have to be seen to be believed.

 

 

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kishi[ATTENDED: July 30, 2014] Kishi Bashi

A few months ago I bought tickets for Rodrigo y Gabriella at the State Theatre.  I was very psyched to see them because I’d seen some videos online and was super psyched to see their show live.  I don’t know when they decided to add an opening act, but about three days ago it was announced that the opener would be Kishi Bashi (this show isn’t even mentioned on his websites tour dates, so it must have been very last minute). But whatever the reason, I nearly whooped ion my seat at work when I saw that he would be the opening act.  And I told our friends Liz and Eleanor how excited I was because they were coming to see Rod y Gab with us as well

I’ve been a huge fan of Kishi Bashi’s since I first heard and then saw him on NPR.  I was mesmerized by the way he looped his violin and did some beatboxing for drums and basically made a whole band all by himself on stage.  I knew that he had been touring with a band this time around, but I was secretly hoping he do at least a few songs by himself.

And man alive was I not disappointed.  At the strike of 8, Kishi came out on stage in a pink tuxedo jacket and bowtie.  (I have no pictures from the show because I was observing the State Theatre’s no pictures policy, even though I appeared to be the only one observing it).  He played some violin improv stuff and then launched into “It All Began with a Burst” a great opening track that allowed him to show off his looping, his voices, his beatboxing and his amazing singing voice.  I was rapt from the get go.

He then played “Bittersweet Genesis for Him and Her” from his new album Lighght (named after the Adam Saroyan poem of the same name).  This isn’t my favorite song from the new album (probably because it is much less soaring than his others), but I enjoyed the live version quite a lot.  Then he went back to his older songs, playing “Atticus, in the Desert” (in New Jersey), which is one of my favorites off his debut.  (more…)

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CV1_TNY_11_04_13Brunetti.inddSOUNDTRACK: RODRIGO Y GABRIELA-Tiny Desk Concert #30 (October 19, 2009).

Iryg have seen the names of Rodrigo y Gabriela for quite some time, but I never knew what they were about.  I assumed they played world music or something (shame on me).  They are a Mexican couple living in Dublin and they have several albums out.  When the Concert opens, Bob Boilen says that the first time he heard them, he was blown away.

And I was too.

Holy crap.  Rodrigo and Gabriela play nylon string acoustic guitars, and they play them like nobody I have ever heard before.  Gabriela plays a lot of percussive sounds with her strings and the body of her guitar.  And Rodrigo is all over the map–doing heavy metal chords (they play Metallica’s “Orion” on their debut album), and flying solos in addition to flamenco notes and even sound effects.  It is a  stunning display of virtuosity and melody.

My only complaint about this Tiny Desk Concert  is that it is too short!  I need to hear more.

They play two songs in about 12 minutes and each one is amazing.  They dazzle your ears as they play, and watching them do it is even better.

[READ: January 5, 2014] “The Man Who Invented the Calendar”

B.J. Novak wrote for and acted on The Office.  This comic piece is about the man, well, who invented the calendar.

The tone of the piece is contemporary with lots of current phrasing–fun with anachronism.

But it is also a funny idea of him deciding to make the calendar starting January 1st. He says he came up with the idea way back on Day After Day After Very Cloudy Day.  His initial plan: one thousand days a year, divided into twenty-five months, forty days a month.  Easy.

At first, the man is enjoying the compliments he’s getting–a guy who says he’s going to organize his life around it.  And Alice says she doesn’t know if she’s busy, she’ll have to check her calendar (wink).

But of course, complaints start to build.  By January 30, people are sick of January.  So all the months will just have 30 days instead.  Or maybe 31.

Soon enough, Alice is his biggest supporter.  Then things get weird on February 14th.  (more…)

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