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Rodrigo Y Gabriela: Mexico's Finest Guitar Export

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By Tony Pierce

There's a lot of terrible music happening today. It's so bad they shouldn't even call it music. In a few years people will wake up from their hangover and hopefully they'll apologize. The first people they should beg forgiveness from are Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero of the fantastic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela.

The pair play on Wednesday at the Hollywood Palladium in what promises to be an electric evening of Latin flavored jams focused on musicianship, teamwork, and virtuosity.

Monday, the lovable duo performed to about 100 fortunate souls at Bob Clearmountain's Apogee Studio in Santa Monica. It was Cinco de Mayo and who better to listen to than Mexico's finest guitar export? Despite being a working studio, it was large enough to comfortably host such a special event, sponsored by KCRW. There was proper lighting, a stage, even food and tasty cocktails.

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Rodrigo shredded with his eyes closed while Gabriela scanned the room staring into the souls of the invited while strumming delicious melodies and tapping intoxicating rhythms.

They've sold millions of records around the world, rightfully, and they're selling out venues acoustic guitarist rarely dream about. They are proof that quality music is viable and desired. Yet the computer beat goes on. Here's something djs and smoke machines and confetti cannot produce: a solemn singalong as an encore.

The pair had completed a short set which included a gracious interview and Rodrigo began strumming the chords to Radiohead's breakout hit "Creep."

Quietly he started whispering the first lines of the deeply personal song about low self esteem and longing. There was no phony bologna, no prompting, no lighters raised and yet the audience sang with him. Just as quietly. The tenderness. The sweetness. It was so beautiful that the sadness of the lyrics touched us all even though we were celebrating it and them.

That is what music can do. Particularly live music played by real musicians who clearly love rock's rich tapestry and who understand that dynamics is just as powerful as speed and spectacle.

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Viva Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Cinco de Mayo Setlist:

THE SOUNDMAKER*
SANTO DOMINGO
INTERVIEW
FRAM*
TORITO*
DIABLO

ENCORE
CREEP [RADIOHEAD COVER]
ORION
CHAC MOOL
TAMACUN

*off the new album “9 Dead Alive”

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Rodrigo y Gabriela play at the Hollywood Palladium tonight