After creating international ripples for their instrumental genius and energetic live performances, Rodrigo y Gabriela made their "Austin City Limits" debut Monday night. The show's 38th season will begin airing on KLRU this fall.

For a guitar duo that has lifted the standard of musicianship across borders, it's hard to imagine them topping themselves. But layering their original hybrid of jazz, flamenco and metal with the Cuban-infused beats of the six-piece orchestra C.U.B.A., they kicked up the performance level to new hypnotic heights at ACL Live.

The duo joked onstage that carefully arranging tracks from previous albums to add a salsa twist was supposed to be a short, fun project so they could take some badly needed time off. "But then we decided to record, tour, and here we are," Gabriela Quintero said.

Rodrigo Sanchez added that they couldn't miss out on the opportunity to tour with C.U.B.A., with whom they recorded their latest record "Area 52." "It's been great, despite all the drama on the bus," Sanchez joked. Rodrigo y Gabriela along with C.U.B.A. have zigzagged North America for the past five weeks. Last weekend they also played a show at Stubb's.

Merging the two highly talented bands treated the audience to an effortless and soulful sound that unified the best of both worlds. Like true professionals, Rodrigo y Gabriela also knew when to hang back and let C.U.B.A.'s bassist and horns shine. Sans lyrics, the music simply speaks for itself, and their pure joy for their fast and rhythmic style is infectious.

Though the addition of C.U.B.A. proved to be a brilliant move, the band did step off the stage for a few songs to unleash the stripped down sound that gave Rodrigo y Gabriela a cult following — first in Ireland, where they relocated to, and now around the globe.

Rodrigo and Gabriela performed a few solo songs, which brought the crowd to their feet. Both started out in a thrash metal band, and the metal sound still influences their music and is weaved, sometimes comically, into the show. Rodrigo liked to tease audiences with interludes of Metallica or Guns N' Roses. Pre-show metal music also helped pump up the crowd.

And in a move that had the crowd roaring, Rodrigo plugged in an electric guitar for a couple songs. Pouring all their energy onto the stage, it's impressive that the duo keep coming back with more to give song after song.

Reach Nancy Flores at 912-2559.