There was not one opportunity to let a yawn escape at the end of the work week for those at The Capitol Theatre on June 19. The evening saw (and heard) a complimentary match of sounds between neo-folk/soul newcomers Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear and the fiery duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. It was an evening of duos touring in support of new albums.
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear opened the evening, their songs welcoming latecomers into the theater. Humble in their manners on-stage (they only made a brief mention of their Bonnaroo appearance the weekend before), the mother-son duo played with a remarkable amount of wholesomeness and soul. For most of the set it felt like The Cap had turned into the back porch on a warm, sunny summer evening; the music playing the sun out for the day. A little bit of heart, plenty of soul, harmony, and shared lead guitar parts left the room happy and appreciative for their set. Rightfully so, too: as a relatively unknown band in a brand new territory they made quite an impression given their status.
For Rodrigo y Gabriela (Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero), The Cap may have been an unfamiliar stage but entirely a new audience, clear by the eruption of cheers as the lights dimmed and a silhouette of Rodrigo drifted to the center of the stage. Anticipation for the show seemed high since before their set while the PA ramped up in volume with canned tunes – there was no lapse as the anticipation converted to avidity.
Aside from the energy of the performance the set had a very casual feel, one of those cases where there is no barrier between the stage and audience. Rodrigo remarked between songs that they booked this 9 Dead Alive tour to play at places they haven’t been before and that they didn’t really have an agenda for the show. Yes, there was a set list taped to the stage floor but it was likely just a guide. They played to a few requests, including a medley of a few Metallica songs (which were heavy influences on the duo’s blended style), and an impromptu tease on “War Pigs” and a cover of “Creep” by Rodrigo as Gabriela made her way back on stage.
When we say there was no barrier between the stage and audience, it quite literally did not exist. It was a sort of rare sight at a venue like The Cap to see around 60 people freely invited to hang out on stage for the better half of the set (minus the encore), almost like the Band Bench that Jimmy Fallon had while he was still hosting Late Night. Rodrigo y Gabriela played just as much to the folks on stage (who of course did their best to sneak in some selfies) as to the rest of the theater.
Their skill in a dynamic range combined with an unrivaled stage chemistry had command over The Cap, engaging the audience in the music the entire time from the aggressive guitar duels to the quieter melodies Gabriela played by herself to mutterings of “shhhh” as the room fell silent. Even the metalheads, who probably first heard of Rodrigo y Gabriela from their cover of Metallica’s “Orion,” were fully behind the more intricate, melodic moments of the show.
For the majority of the people in attendance, it was their first time seeing either act live since Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear is a relatively new act and Rodrigo y Gabriela were making their first Port Chester appearance. The performances were remarkably impressionable; people praising what they heard as they strolled away along Westchester Ave.