Review: Hermanos Gutiérrez Bring Their Dreamy Soundscapes to Thalia Hall

Alejandro and Estevan Gutiérrez are the vessels for the celestial Latin-western instrumental band, Hermanos Gutiérrez. Chicago was fortunate enough to spend two sold-out evenings with the duo, and Monday night’s set paired perfectly with the moody weather looming over the city. The duo ditches sung lyrics in their catalog of music but they greatly compensate for this with their effortless dreamy western soundscapes.

Walking into Thalia Hall I was immediately greeted by an opening set from cumbia DJ Eva Maria. She did a fantastic job at setting the right vibes for the evening. Her Latin roots shined through her set and the upbeat music she played was the perfect precursor for a chilled out acoustic set to follow.

Hermanos Gutiérrez's stage set was simple; a platform surrounded by spotlights and two chairs with their instruments beside them. The two brothers emerged and spared no moment getting to their seats and commencing the show. They opened the show up with their song “Thunderbird,” which is a rather haunting yet comforting track that reminds me of a long dark void in the desert. Being only instrumental songs, the audience was extremely attentive and silent; you could almost hear a pin drop in between the songs and cheering. It was honestly very refreshing to attend a show where there was no singing; purely the magic of the duo’s instrumental compositions. Since singing was absent here, the sound had never been more crisp coming through the speakers of Thalia Hall as everyone stood in silence and absorbed every last note. Alejandro alternated between electric guitar and what I learned was to be a lap steel guitar (which sounded fantastic live!) while his brother Estevan alternated from electric guitar to the bongo drums. The bongo drums were especially a lovely touch that you don’t get to hear all too often!

I am completely biased towards instrumental heavy bands; and that being said this show was absolutely stunning in both sound and the emotions Hermanos Gutiérrez evoked not only for myself but the rest of the crowd. As I said before, I don’t think I have ever attended a show with a more attentive crowd; above all else you could really tell the people were here for the music. The brothers played a compilation of songs during the meat of their set, titled “Desert Medley,” which was an ethereal jam session from the two that captivated everyone’s hearts. They later also performed my personal favorite song of theirs, “Tres Hermanos,” which starts out with a soul-stirring lonely guitar but then turns into an earworm of a song that is simply charming!

The duo really drew in the Latin-rooted crowds of Chicago for not only an evening of spectacular instrumentals, but an evening to celebrate Latin culture and the way it sounds; to see how far we have come to be able to congregate together and listen to it flourish. This pair of brothers utilize the universal language of music and have used it to bring people together without incorporating lyrics. Bands like these are always a treasure because you just know the music is so powerful and intuitive; without needing to sing a single word. Getting to see Hermanos Gutiérrez was just the right ear therapy I didn’t know I needed and I look forward to the next time they ride through town!

All photos by Andrew Lagunas.

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Andrew Lagunas

Andrew Lagunas is a freelance photographer from Naperville who specializes in portraiture and concert photography. He has an Associate in Arts degree from College of DuPage and is always looking for new creative outlets.