Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rodrigo Y Gabriela

On Saturday night I went to see the two Mexican guitarists Rodrigo Y Gabriela at the Riveria theater in Chicago. The Riveria is in the Uptown neighborhood near Lawrence and Broadway, right by the Aragon Ballroom.

If you haven't been to this neighborhood recently you wouldn't believe the changes. I met a friend of mine at a brand spanking new Borders bookstore just south of the Riveria. There are a lot of new hip restaurants and bars in the area and the streets are relatively clean of debris. This is a FAR cry from how it used to be when I saw shows there in the 80's and 90's... the area was dingy, full of bums, and dangerous.

Back to the show - Rodrigo Y Gabriela are unique because not only do they play acoustic guitar but they also play percussion of sorts by banging on the body of their acoustic guitar; this provides a lot more "boom" than you'd think by my description. They don't sing, it is instrumental work only. Their web site is which is easy to remember.

They also play a lot of strange songs, particularly "Orion" by Metallica and a version of Stairway to Heaven. Check them out at You Tube - I also like their version of "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd. For Wish You Were Here they just play the background acoustic guitar strum and everyone in the crowd just shouts out the lyrics; you wouldn't think that you know every word of the song by heart but if you lived through the 70's and 80's you probably do - certainly the whole crowd did at the Riviera (and in the You Tube clips, too).

The other (mildly) interesting part of story is that I briefly took a couple of videos with my flip video camera (I wasn't trying to tape whole songs or anything) when two HUGE bouncers (I mean, they must have been over 400 pounds and 6' 5" plus) came over and took me out to the front door to "check in" my camera. When they realized that I wasn't a drunken belligerent they were quite polite actually; they insisted that the clerk give me a claim check with a number and they even had change waiting for me after the $5 check in fee was levied. I guess this is my tiny element of life as a quasi-journalist.

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