If the acoustic duo Rodrigo y Gabriella sounds more like a trio, it is because Gabriella Quintero’s right hand does the work of two guitarists. It flutters and snaps and swivels in the air above her instrument as if free of tendons. The right-hand rapid fire spanks strings and various parts of her hollow-body guitar and produces a husky and uncommon mix of rhythms and textures and great thundering exclamations. All the while, she’s comping on rhythm chords and bass notes. With a right hand like that, Rodrigo y Gabriella don’t need a rhythm section. Her flamenco-guitar-on-overdrive is three-quarters of the duo’s sound, and without it they might have been written off as just another pair of reformed rockers playing good flamenco. This is a limb I’m willing to go out on.
Not that her partner Rodrigo Sanchez is any slouch. His guitar carries the melody, and in that line of work the lead line is almost always an evocative and intricate puzzle that must be performed with resolute perfection. There is no room for error in this kind of music, and their backgrounds in thrash metal helped to hone their skills.
In Mexico City (they eventually moved to Ireland to begin their acoustic career), Sanchez and Quintero both played guitar in Tierra Acida for almost a decade. They took their cues from American hardcore metal bands like Slipknot and Metallica. You needn’t hear Rodrigo y Gabriella’s covers of Floyd or Zeppelin to hear the rock spirit that counterbalances with their stew of Latin culture, flamenco, and traditional Spanish guitar and pop — rock guitar is still the essence of every note they play, and at serious amplification. They are the rock stars of Spanish guitar, and all that’s missing are the power chords.
RODRIGO Y GABRIELLA, 4th & B, Monday, February 11, 8 p.m. 619-231-4343. $31.