The UT Cultural Attractions Committee delivered a smash hit, sold out show Tuesday night with Rodrigo y Gabriela live at the Cox Auditorium. The fast-picking guitar duo put on a spectacular display of musicianship and creativity, blending their Mexican heritage with the modern styles of heavy metal into an irresistibly pleasing sound. The audience was bursting with enthusiasm, dancing in the aisles and clapping to the rhythms in sync.
Singer/songwriter Bobby Long started off the evening with soulful lyrics and acoustic guitar.
Coming from England, his act was a worthy opener for the show, warming up the crowd nicely with his sophisticatedly soulful sound. The anticipation all week had been building up, though. When the lights finally went down for the second act, the auditorium exploded with cheers of excitement.
It's wonderful to be in Knoxville for the first time... We are very happy to be here!Gabriela Quintero of Rodrigo y GabrielaThe stage lighting was modest, but the stage presence of the performers was bright enough for the whole room. The show began with a fiery energy that only seemed to intensify as the show went on.
The stage setup itself lent to the intimate nature of the performance. Six lights atop lamp posts surrounded Rodrigo y Gabriela as they played, with reds, yellows and oranges lighting up the intense expressions of their faces.
There were no props, only the players, their equipment, and their acoustic guitars. The pair moved together on stage in a mesmerizing dance of their own, needing no help at all commanding the attention of the entire room.
"It's wonderful to be in Knoxville for the first time," said Gabriela Quintero, in a suprisingly soft and humble voice, in between songs Tuesday night. "We aren't used to this kind of performance, but we are very happy to be here, and we still hope that you will all dance and enjoy yourselves."
We dedicate much of our inspiration to many artists, but metal has been our driving inspiration through the years.Rodrigo Sanchez of Rodrigo y GabrielaRodrigo y Gabriela have never played in Knoxville before, and they both mentioned with humor that this was a very different kind of setting than they were used to.
Although many also enjoy it for it's other aspects, their music is heavily based in heavy metal, so most of their shows are played in outdoor venues to crowds who have a predominent interest in metal bands.
Especially after a summer of touring outdoor music festivals, coming to a university and playing to an auditorium of people sitting patiently in their seats was quite a contrast.
"We really feel its important to explain the different aspects of our music," Rodrigo Sanchez said.
"We are not flamenco players, and we aren't classical guitar players either. We dedicate much of our inspiration to many artists, including some of the great classical and flamenco players we grew up listening to in Mexico, but metal has been our driving inspiration through the years."
The audience in Cox Auditorium that night certainly was made up of a lot more than just heavy metal lovers, but it was still the music that drew the wide array of people there, spanning many ages and interests.
After multiple standing ovations and an extra long encore, there was no doubt that the music of Rodrigo y Gabriela transcended any differences and provided enjoyment for all.
The Cultural Attractions Committee's goal and purpose is to bring some of the most talented performers from around the world to the UT campus to promote appreciation for diversity through music and dance. With that in mind, the event was most certainly a success.
Click here to read more about Rodrigo y Gabriela and the CUltural Attractions Committee.