Joe Satriani and Steve Vai's current Satch / Vai Tour is technically a pairing of teacher and student — but during their Friday performance at Austin's ACL Live, both guitarists displayed such a jaw-dropping mastery of their instrument that the distinction felt irrelevant.

You can see UCR's exclusive photos from the performance below.

Vai noted during his opening performance that he had been waiting for this tour for 52 years. The 63-year-old virtuoso began taking guitar lessons from Satriani when he was barely a teenager, and his own genius quickly emerged — so quickly, in fact, that Satriani later joked during the duo's show-closing jam that he taught Vai all wrong as an act of self-preservation.

READ MORE: Joe Satriani and Steve Vai Have 'Crazy Ideas' for Upcoming Album: Interview

Not that Satriani had anything to worry about. For one, he and Vai occupy totally different lanes on the shred-guitar highway. Vai's music is more esoteric and progressive, and he performed with an alien-like fluidity and grace befitting of an artist with an EP named Alien Love Secrets. Satriani, meanwhile, hews closer to meat-and-potatoes hard rock, favoring a more organic, old-school aesthetic. (In that regard, he's found an excellent musical sparring partner in touring drummer Kenny Aronoff.) But he can still deliver lightning-fast legato runs and skyscraping whammy-bar squeals with the best of 'em. Satriani was the picture of cool onstage in Austin, his searing fretwork and consummate showmanship making this writer even more excited for his upcoming tour with Sammy Hagar.

Both guitar heroes closed out the night by performing their new collaborative single, "The Sea of Emotion, Pt. 1," and trading solos on extended jams of "You Really Got Me" and "Enter Sandman." (Both covers had unique significance for Satriani, as he incorporated part of Eddie Van Halen's solo on the former and paid tribute to another former student, Kirk Hammett, on the latter.) Three hours of guitar histrionics isn't for the faint of heart, but for the shred-heads in attendance, it was a thrill to bask in the skill of two masters at work.

Joe Satriani and Steve Vai in Austin, May 3, 2024

Teacher and student teamed up for a night of jaw-dropping virtuosity.

Gallery Credit: Bryan Rolli

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