Rodrigo y Gabriela at The Hideout

Another random weekend night landed me in a hilariously long line outside one of my favorite spots: The Hideout. The bar is aptly named; hidden in an industrial area of town near North Ave and Elston and it’s not an easy find if you don’t know where you’re heading. Then again, judging by the queue, the place isn’t exactly “hush-hush”. Hideout has a stellar entertainment reputation (comedy, poetry, music, etc), a great low-key vibe and a line that stretched out the door and down the block.


(Images taken From http://www.RodGab.com)

My pal Kate had tipped me off to a free early show hosted by WXRT. It’d be fair to say that XRT is “slipping” a bit as far as being a relevant Chicago music resource goes (XRT listener pole, the loss of Sound Opinions), but they’re still an authority if they highlight fabulous musicians like Mexico-via-Dublin’s Rodrigo y Gabriela. Hell, before I even saw them I relished saying their names in a thick, fake, latin accent: “Rrrodureeego Eeee Gabreeeeyayla.”

While we’re trying to keep warm out on Wabansia, there’s terrific music floating out the windows of The H/O… more slackers (myself included) begin to line up outside, annoyed that we’re not being let in. While we’re standing, and shivering, and smoking, snippets of gorgeous guitar work emanated though the open window facing the front patio. Intrigued outsiders started taking turns peeking into front window in hopes of catching a glimpse.

Within 10 or so minutes the crowd thinned out and the kindly Hideout staff let us in, so long as we promised to stay at the front bar. All of us promised and about half of us complied. Being a good kid I took a seat at the front bar, ordered a round of Old Styles, and took it all in: The bar aglow with homemade paper snowflakes and Christmas lights, the mixed-bag crowd, and the gorgeous acoustic onslaught that was filtering in from the crowded room behind us.

Eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I joined the dozen or so that opted to just stand on chairs and tables in the bar in hopes of seeing the stage. The backroom was packed with the exact type of people I picture listening to XRT and some terrible world music CDs. (Also, side note: RodGab would politely punch you in the gullet for saying they were “world music”). Peering over the adult-contempo crowd, I spotted two mild-mannered guitarists laying out beautiful, seemingly effortless classical guitar picking with a flair that married Latin and Led Zepplin.

When Rodrigo Sanchez would occasionally drop into complicated fretwork, the capacity crowd remained absolutely silent. At other times the sound assault was so dynamic you’d think there were more than a pair of acoustic guitars on stage. Part of that sound is Gabriela Quintero’s percussive style–occasionally punishing her guitar strings to create jagged rhythms and using the hollow body of her guitar in substitution of a proper drum kit. The combined effect of the duo was overwhelming–a full sound that belied the two dexterous and mild-mannered performers on stage.

The show ended (after a superb rendition of Stairway… NOT joking), and Gabriela graciously thanked the crowd in charming, broken English. A few minutes later, (and after a much-appreciated appearance by those Nomadic Tamale Guys) the pair waived goodbye to the handful of onlookers and hopped into a waiting cab.

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