There were lights and smoke machines, and cameras attached to their guitars to project close-up shots onto a massive back screen. But all Rodrigo y Gabriela really needed to stun the Pantages crowd was their zillion-stringed acoustic guitars and unbelievably fast fingerwork. Their instruments are drums, bass, and melody in one, carefully interwoven into delicious, catchy, danceable music.
Opening the show was Rocco DeLuca, who stood alone onstage with a shifting lineup of resonator guitars. His music was metallic and haunting; his singing stuck to the falsetto as he keened along with the harmonization. It wasn't as catchy or bombastic as what was to follow, but it was an apt opener for a pair of guitar virtuosos.
As the intermission drew to a close, the lights went blue and a huge 11:11 flashed on the back screen (the title of RyG's newest album). With no introduction patter, the pair strode out, grabbed their guitars, and launched into their first number. Within the first three songs, they had most of the audience out of their seats bouncing along to their syncopated rhythms.
For most of the show, the pair kept rolling, moving from one tune to the next with little pause; periodically one of the pair would leave the stage entirely, allowing the other to take the spotlight. For Gabriela Quintero, this allowed her to highlight her hand-drumming skills, in which she rapidly switched between rapping her knuckles and fingers across the body of her guitar and strumming, playing both rhythm and melody at the same time.
When Rodrigo Sanchez had the stage to himself, he organized the audience into his percussion section, breaking the crowd into three segments of alternating clapped rhythms while he concentrated on some incredibly impressive melodic solo work. When the pair reunited, they launched into a syncopated cover of Stairway to Heaven, Quintero hunched over her instrument in extreme concentration, Sanchez rocking out in a full metal stance.