Rodrigo y Gabriella, Christopher Hawley Rollers, & Xavier Rudd
The Greek Theater
Los Angeles, California
August 18th, 2010
An afternoon unfolded slowly while music from around the world tickled our imaginations.
As a half moon rose over The Greek Theatre, revelers found themselves unwinding to the tunes of the Christopher Hawley Rollers. Warming them up with songs like "Dance All Day," LA locals the Christopher Hawley Rollers know how to show their audience an easy goin’ good time, and served as a perfect appetizer to the evening.
The CHRs are a cross between the Grateful Dead and a friendly cowboy you would meet roaming the great out there. With catchy tunes, an array of instruments, and lyrics about, "…my friends and me," one can’t help but want to mosey around and dance. Christopher Hawley’s vocals are warm and inviting and provide just the way an evening of music should begin.
Xavier Rudd followed the Christopher Hawley Rollers. Rudd, an outlaw from the outback of Australia, raised The Greek’s vibration with an opening session that was more like a sound-healing than a jam. With chimes, heavy bass, hand drums, and a didgeridoo, as the first few minutes came to a close a simultaneous sigh could almost be heard penetrating the open air theatre, symbolic of a crowd wide release.
As his set began and Xavier began to sing one couldn’t help but smile. His voice and lyrics, among other things, are moving and uplifting. During the soothing number, "Don’t Understand" on a lap slide acoustic guitar, every sound echoed and it seemed as night fell that Xavier was calling on the stars and everything all around to listen. It was a poignant and somewhat haunting moment.
As the evening progressed, the electricity in the set picked up the pace and our spirits. With feedback and instrumental tribal breakdowns that sounded as if they are pushing demons out of the belly of their souls, all were entranced. Xavier proclaimed "this song is for the earth" before rounding out his portion of the show with the crowd pleaser "Let Me Be," a simple, sweet, and harmonically pleasing song that allowed all including Xavier to get up out of their seats, move, and be free.
Waiting for our last Outlaws from south of the border to take the stage, it was interesting to watch the ethnically diverse crowd, a mix of fans that had both driven all the way from Mexico to those of us who lived only moments away within the Los Angeles area who have only recently come to know the dynamic duo of Rodrigo y Gabriella.
The duo begs the question of can hard rock, Metal, Flamenco, Latin, and Brazilian styles coexist?" The answer is a resounding "yes they can if these two musicians have anything to do with it." And as these two musicians with just their two instruments took to the stage, they also took the audience’s collective attention. The lack of vocals went unnoticed due to the entertaining presence of Rodrigo y Gabriella, who interacted with their audience, jumping up and down bursting with excitement, and commanding the stage at the flick of their hands.
Set up with a great array of lights, what appeared to be a few storage crates for their equipment, and a projection screen, the stage was set for an evening focused on the magic and purity of the guitar and the mastery of music.
Opening this portion of the evening it was hard to pay attention to anything other than the undeniable skill of these two. Gabriella’s hands talk to the guitar in an incredible rhythmic pattern unlike any most has ever observed. It was unusual but refreshing to see a female play the guitar in such a manner that draws admiration from the great masters of her medium. She flew over the entire body of the guitar and fret board using it like a drum or bass, while controlling the ever changing tempo with her lightening hands and fingers. Rodrigo stood with one leg upon the front amp of the stage, as if a ray of sunlight may pierce the night sky and fall directly on him, a guitar god, pouring out melodies and beautifully orchestrated lines that synched seamlessly with Gabriella. He made Flamenco music sound like hard rock while still maintaining its sexy integrity.
As the evening progressed, Rodrigo y Gabriella treated the audience to both original songs from their latest album and old creations; "Hanuman" paid tribute to the great musicians who have influenced their music such as Carlos Santana, and "Triveni" paid homage to their Palestinian influence. Through songs with dark wondrous landscapes accompanied by heavy underlying rhythms and effects that pulsate like a heartbeat, their music evokes scenes of lounging in a café drinking Sangria while writing or listening to emotional love.
Then as if to mystify the crowd further, two special guests came to the stage to play a couple of songs with the duo: L. Shankar, a violinist and acclaimed co-creator of Shakti Indian Jazz Fusion, and Bassist Robert Trujillo of Metallica. Talk about being transported to another world full of deep bass lines, trippy Indian vocals, and slide guitar with beer bottles! Watching this impressive collaboration was hypnotizing, like witnessing the conjuring of spirits in the middle of some vast unidentifiable land.
The evening drew to a close as listeners were treated to the guest addition of Al Di Meola, world, jazz, guitar virtuoso, and gypsy. Alone on the stage, his strumming and picking caused notes to fly out of the guitar. After a couple of songs, Rodrigo y Gabriella joined Di Meola on stage to see if they could hold their own with this crafty musician. It was fascinating to study Rodrigo trading lead off with the master. The young duo held their own, as the torch was seemingly passed from one generation to the next.
Closing the evening out with "Buster Voodoo," a tribute to Jimi Hendrix, it became apparent that the evening had been as much of a delight for them as it was for their fans. Spectacular bright white towers of light flashed behind the guitar legends in the making. Posing for photos with fans while still playing their hearts out, Rodrigo y Gabriella filled the Greek with tones so powerful that at the last note – during Rodrigo’s sustained feedback – Gabriella’s arm could literally be seen physically giving out.
As the nightcap, Gabriella walked across the stage waving a giant Mexican flag, closing the curtain on an inspirationally electrifying evening. All were pleased by the day’s music provided by these Outlaws of sound.
NOTE: Some of the photos used in this aren’t from this show. We’re aware.