I’ve been to over 100 concerts during the course of 20 years, and seeing Rodrigo Y Gabriela at the newly restored Fox Theater in Oakland was easily among the top 5. They share a seat at my musical table with Pink Floyd, Santana, Shriekback, and Rush. A guitar duo from Mexico, their style is unique, and their energy palpable. Rodrigo plays with a calm finesse, often closing his eyes as his fingers dance along the neck of his guitar. Gabriela is much more animated, laughing and smiling as she complements every phrase of Rodrigo, slapping the strings in percussion, her skill being matched by her vivacious attitude and simple beauty. Together they trade their energy back and forth, neither one overshadowing the other.
The Fox Theater, a block from the 19th Street BART station in Oakland, was a beautiful venue to see them in. Closed for 43 years, it went through a $75M restoration and reopened in February, already showcasing such artists as Green Day, The Moody Blues, and B.B.King. The open floor layout allows one to get close if one arrives on time, and waitresses take your bar order where you stand, removing the need to navigate to the bar and lose one’s place. The decorations are over the top in the most fabulous way.
Promoting their new album, 11:11, this is near the beginning of their worldwide tour, with stops across the US, Mexico, Europe, and Japan. If you are a fan of great classical guitar playing, with elements of rock, blues, and flamenco, you will not be disappointed in seeing this amazing duo live.
Closer to home, the Fox Theater has upcoming shows including Stone Temple Pilots, Echo & the Bunnymen, and the Pixies.