Rodrigo y Gabriela
North Charleston Performing Arts Center
It’s impossible to watch Rodrigo y Gabriela perform and not think about what it takes to make such a perfect couple. Obviously there’s talent and creativity. There’s also lots of the band’s ear for innovation. Gabriela’s guitar has seven microphones mounted internally to handle her rhythmic fancies). But foremost, there’s attentiveness and respect between the two.
Rodrigo is the scale master, whizzing across the neck like the metal guitar gods he idolizes. Gabriela flutters her right hand at full-flight speeds across the strings, building a combined sound with two nylon string guitars that easily fills a room holding over a thousand people. One gets an idea and whispers to the other, and they knowingly build or release the musical tension in perfect sync.
To hear two classical guitars hold such control of a room and a collective mood at the PAC was astounding. Rodrigo demonstrated that, with proper amplification, the ease of finger work on a nylon string actually allows a player to rock that much heavier while still remaining natural. Still, the pair didn’t shy away from their love of effects. Gabriela offered the audience an intriguing guitar lesson on her style, complete with a wah-wah pedal to beef up the sound, while Rodrigo even grabbed a Les Paul at one point to shred metal licks after opener Alex Skolnick (formerly of Testament) joined them on stage.
The duo said they were flattered by both the crowd and venue, acknowledging that it was their first time in Charleston and their appreciation to be playing in a theater with an attentive audience. The song selection drew heavily from their new album, 11:11, but also featured plenty of diversity, from seated numbers to headbangers.
Visually, there was some extremely trippy, animated Alex Grey artwork, along with live projected footage from tiny cameras mounted on their guitars capturing their fretwork. It added an appropriate element of grandeur to an already staggering performance.