Los Angeles, CA- By definition, “invigorate” (v) means to give strength or energy to; it also means to re-energize, revitalize, animate, galvanize, rouse and exhilarate. By every measure of the word, KCRW’s Sound in Focus Outdoor Concert on Saturday July 29th, 2017 in Los Angeles did just that.
If you missed the soiree, you missed the musical bliss of nine time Latin Grammy award winner/pop singer Natalia LaFourcade and world-renowned acoustic Mexican guitarists, Rodrigo y Gabriela.
If you’re not familiar with Natalia Lafourcade, get to your iTunes and start listening to her Latin pop rock ballads. Signed with Sony-BMG, she’s a petite Frida-like pixie powerhouse that competes with the likes of Pit Bull, Marc Anthony, Shakira and Ricky Martin. She’s commanded attention ever since her first Latin Grammy nomination in 2003 and is only increasing in acclaim. For a true delight, check out her most recent award-winning album, Hasta La Raíz.
Her Saturday early evening performance at The Annenberg Center for Photography was met with great anticipation. Fans crowded the stage, and proudly waved their Mexican flags, as she entered quite charmingly across the stage. It was if she was giving a performance inside her living room, rather than to several hundred screaming fans. Her smooth and sweet voice, with bossa nova instrumentation, carried through the green lawns and birch trees like a Baja coastal siesta. Equal to her uplifting songs about love, her girlish smile and crown braids makes an impact on your heart. You want to sway. And sway you do. You instantly fall into a relaxed and breezy vibe, where no harm in the world is done. Instead, you feel united with the people around you, as you chant wistful Spanish lyrics and transcend to a peaceful place. Natalia is beguiling and her music sheds away the stress of life.
After that spiritual shedding, you need some “shredding” to remind you of the vitality and excitement of life. That’s where Rodrigo y Gabriela come in. Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero are a dynamic duo from Mexico. Though deeply influenced and passionate about heavy metal rock music, they’ve been slapping flamenco style infused rock guitar riffs for over 18 years. Having started their career in Ireland in 1999, they’ve made an impressive mark on the European music scene. Despite their Mexican origins, they then crossed over to the American market through their work with Hans Zimmer, other film scores and various collaborations with indie rock bands. With five studio albums, three live albums and an EP, they’re a Californian favorite; playing various venues across Los Angeles. Needless to say, fans are riveted by their sheer energetic force and magnetic guitar playing…of which range from traditional flamenco to repurposed rock songs in flamenco style. In fact, their music defies a true definition. Hit songs like Metallica’s Orion and Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name are transformed and mashed up in their acoustic jazz/rock/flamenco approach. Overall, their songs are complex and a myriad of genres that end up being kinetic masterpieces. Do yourself a favor and check out their latest album, 9 Dead Alive.
On Saturday night— due to a running injury, Gabriela was placed in a wheel chair, but she didn’t seem phased by this handicap. She played with zest and exuberance, like her life depended on strumming her guitar strings. Rodrigo bounced from left to right to center stage, jamming like a true rock superstar…all the while bringing invigorating beats and flamenco rock through the evening sky. As musical prodigies, their fingers fly. Their hands beat like drums. You wonder how many people are playing on stage with them, but you’ll never believe it’s just the two of them. While they’re playing, you experience their invested, vigorous and animated effervescence. It’s no wonder they were asked to play for President Barack Obama in 2010. Clearly, he knows good jams too.
Some people who don’t know Rodrigo y Gabriela might balk at their acoustic instrumental sets, but clearly they don’t realize guitars were mirrored from the human voice. When Rodrigo y Gabriela play their guitars…their guitars speak…volumes, with uplifting almost tribal melodies and beats. A voice couldn’t compete with the all-encompassing, all-enthralling vibrance of their music. Hearing them play is not just rumba, it’s a rumble of primordial ancestral musical roots. It’s as if their fingers are plucking your heart-strings, and this moves your entire body to dance, spin and skip. As I looked around at the entranced fans, every body was roused in motion dancing, laughing and generally in a dizzy of fun. That’s what you do at a Rodrigo y Gabriela concert. I wasn’t alone in my open-hearted dance fest. This is what makes them a super hit…they’re musicians who truly love the power of music. They play their hearts out and adore their fans.
After a Rodrigo y Gabriela concert, you feel alive, exhilarated and loved. Gracias KCRW, Natalia, Rodrigo y Gabriela…qué noche para la magia. In other words, thank you- what a night for magic!
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