Alex Skolnick Trio - The basic trio with an upright bass. Clearly jazz was the foundation with touches of latin inspiration and maybe a couple other worldly moves. A very jazzy interpretation of Rush's "Tom Sawyer" was the oddball, fun moment of the set. Some of the guitar work is reminiscent of players like Al Dimeola I would hazard to guess. The players were good, the music agreeable and gutsy at times, so the set was a nice success and an appropriate set-up for the headliners.
Rodrigo y Gabriela - As I sampled dozens of acts from Bonaroo and Coachella on my computer last year, I enjoyed this duo's set at Bonaroo the most of all the bands I saw. So I was looking forward to catching their first night of a three week US tour. Their sound is highly unique given the fact that they do instrumentals with two acoustic guitars. They have a ton of pace and two very different styles that fit perfectly together. He plays flamenco style leads, although they correctly point out they are not traditional flamenco players. She plays rhythm and percussion all at once covering for about three people in an average band. The songs go from snappy fun high energy folk to spacey psycedelia to moody acoustic to rockers to pretty much whatever they choose to do. One song sounded like an acoustic "Saucerful of Secrets" and had great lighting to match the song. The lighting was widely varied, yet not over-the-top. The staging was good as they both moved around a lot sitting and standing in different spots--theatrical, but again subtle. There were some synthesizers, wah-wahs, and other effects going in underneath, but the playing was excellent. Great ovation from the crowd as they await a second sell-out night tonight.
Quote of the Night: Gabriela noted "touring is a fuckin' soap opera". You gotta like someone with the looks of an angel and the tongue of a sailor as she dropped more f-bombs than I used to hear at the average Exploited show. She did a good job explaining that here style is based on the bodhran, an Irish drum. She uses two fingers and a thumb to simulate flickering drum motion of the bodhran player. Interesting and very effective.