Featured News Taping Recap

Taping recap: Rodrigo y Gabriela with the Austin Symphony Orchestra

Innovative guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela teams with the Austin Symphony Orchestra  to bring a wildly captivating sound to the ACL stage and live stream screens. The duo showcased their new album In Between Thoughts…A New World alongside a collection of newly released tracks to deliver a stunning performance. In Between Thoughts…A New World is an experimental and energetic departure from their classical Spanish acoustic sound that raised the Mexico City duo to meteoric fame as musical maestros. Being accompanied by the 32 piece Austin Symphony Orchestra, the performance marks a much anticipated collaboration 26 years in the making, as the Orchestra  makes its ACL debut  lead by seasoned conductor, Peter Bay. In Between Thoughts…A New World invites listeners to travel into the Rodrigo y Gabriela universe inspired by a deep dive into the spiritual interconnectedness at the core of the human experience. Expressed via speedy strumming patterns, distinctive guitar solos, and a powerful strings section, the musicians magically maintain a harmonious balance that cosmically creates the ultimate storytelling soundtrack. In between thoughts and beneath the ACL studio lights, Rodrigo, Gabriela, and the Austin Symphony Orchestra delivered a stunning  glimpse into their new world.  

Embarking on the first stop of the musical journey, the duo navigates the audience through the narrative nature of the record. The musicians include several songs that reflect the rises, falls, and pit stops along their musical tour of their new world. Spearheaded by the non dualistic themes of connection and unity that inspired the songs on the new record, phase 1 of the hero’s journey includes track “The Eyes that Dream,” featuring orchestra accompaniment. A track that serves as a testament to the musical chemistry between the guitarists, the track showcases how Rodrigo’s immense technical skills complement the energetic acoustic style of his partner. As Rodrigo switches between electric and acoustic guitar, the orchestra gracefully merges into the melody catching up to the guitarists and expanding on the impactful rhythm of the song. The track transitions swiftly into the next stop of the tour with brief interludes featuring a collection of ambient-style intros, serving as transitional “pit stops”, a thematic palette cleanser and tonal introduction to the next track. A grateful and charismatic Gabriela takes to the mic to thank the audience, speak about the album, and thank the orchestra. Briefly introducing new song “Monster” the guitarist explains the thematic roots of the song before explaining that due to its long explanation, the audience would be better off “[Coming] up with [their] own monster story.” “Monster” features a melancholic intro, softly played by both Spanish guitars, invoking a sense of unease, a sound that underlyingly expects danger to arise. The track creates a stylistic spotlight on Gabriela’s stylistic work with the body of the guitar featuring percussive slaps and her signature loose, but never sloppy technique. The duo create a sound that bounces from being small, contained, and uneasy, to a sudden shift into the quick strumming that creates a beautiful disarray. The duo spring up from their stools as the crowd cheers. Rodrigo builds on momentum by adding a psychedelic layer of  distortion to the guitar tone giving the sound movement, almost as if the sound comes in and out of the song amongst the energetic rhythmic strumming, a musical lava lamp effect. 

Tapping into their rock and roll roots, song “Broken Rage” highlights the technical talent of the former metal maestros. The orchestra’s strings weave into Rodrigo’s lead electric guitar as he takes turns connecting with Gabriela and the elated audience. As he runs across the stage under strobe-like lighting effects, the orchestra builds to an energetic peak. Expanding the sound and captivating the audience through speed, the orchestra delivers a high energy performance.

The component at the center of the Rod y Gab musical universe lies within the authenticity that comes from the musicians’ undeniable musical chemistry with each other and their own instruments. The musicians reflect a sense of organic craftsmanship so strong that it becomes central to the inherent identity of them as performers – a major piece of their signature style. Rodrigo y Gabriela grow an increasingly complex musical world from the seed of this connection that blooms bright. Observing this connection innately turns the viewer from a spectator into a voyeur, with a unique opportunity to peer into a sheer 75 minutes of intimate musical connection. Rodrigo y Gabriela do not merely perform, but display a sense of musical connection so authentic, it invites the listener to place themselves within the center of their rich musical ecosystem. 

Leading with this authenticity, the duo exits the stage after final track “In Between Thoughts…A New World” amongst a sea of standing ovations, cheering, and immense applause before returning to the stage for the final encore. Rodrigo thanks the audience and comments “The energy in here is beautiful!” As they prepare for their final song, an audience member yells out “Te amo Gabi!” As the explosive finisher “Descending to Nowhere” reaches its epic end, the maestros receive an eruption of applause by a crowd completely on their feet, yelling, cheering, and raising their heart-shaped hands at the guitarists. Gabriela excitingly smiles and laughs at the crowd, prancing around the stage waving and graciously thanking the invigorated fans. As crowds of musical travelers leave their seats, show commentary and conversation commences amongst the crowd. One fan expresses how “You feel better now, than when you came in!”, an observation of a performance that encompasses the dynamic of a musical duo that not merely coexists with each other, but thrives. 

The harmonious dynamic created between Rodrigo, Gabriela, and the Austin Symphony Orchestra created an experimental presence so captivating, it ripples across the audience inviting listeners to travel alongside the duo as they explore their new musical universe. Tune into your local public TV station this fall and witness the broadcast version of this symphonic soundtrack to human connection on ACL’s upcoming Season 49.