Gary Clark Jr. holds the fate of a whole genre in his hands alone, and I mean that in the most literal way possible. When Clark Jr. holds his guitar, show after show, he is keeping blues rock alive in 2016. With huge co-signs from the Foo Fighters, Eric Clapton, John Mayer and critics across the board, Buddy Guy even called Gary Clark Jr. the savior of blues. I first had the opportunity to hear Clark Jr. live, performing in support of Outkast’s huge reunion tour in 2014. Since then I’ve seen him perform at a couple festivals throughout the country and I always leave impressed.
Tonight Gary Clark Jr. traveled to the Windy City in support of his second studio LP, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, with his headlining tour of the same name. Performing for a sold-out crowd at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre, fans of all different ages and go-to genres got to see one of the world’s best guitarist live in action. Today marked April Fools’ Day but tonight’s performances at The Riv were certainly no joke. There was no better place to be in Chicago tonight than Gary Clark Jr.’s sold-out show.
To warm up the crowd tonight was another one of Austin, Texas’ most talented artists, country music singer Carson McHone. McHone received a lot of local attention after her self-titled EP in 2013, and since then she has shared the stage with Lydia Loveless, Charlie Mars, David Ramirez, and even toured in support of Shakey Graves last summer. Tonight though, McHone shared the stage with her fellow Austin native and performed a number of records off her latest studio album, Goodluck Man. While you wouldn’t expect an alternative country singer to warm up a blues rock crowd, that’s just what she did tonight. Despite minor feedback issues on the production side and some outside fan chatter from the bar area, the performance was excellent in every way. McHone has a lovable and calm stage presence that fans can’t help but enjoy. Sometimes a guitar is still a guitar, and despite the differences in McHone and Gary Clark Jr.’s music, the two both know how to work the guitar and write some great records.
Soon after McHone stepped off stage, it was time for the man of the night. The lights went low and the crowd erupted in anticipation of the night’s headlining performance. Gary Clark Jr. kicked off his set with his track, ‘Bright Lights’ from his 2012 debut, Blak and Blu, an LP which scored the Texas guitarist his first two Grammy nominations. ‘Bright Lights’ may not be one of Clark Jr.’s biggest records, but the B-side is definitely one of his best to see live.
Throughout the night, Gary Clark Jr. performed the majority of records from The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, a few awesome covers, and a lengthy encore. With his epic guitar solos, Gary Clark Jr.’s guitar almost served as a separate band member for the night. Considering the fact that the ‘Don’t Owe You a Thing’ singer has been killing it on guitar since he was 12, it is no surprise that his solos stole the show. And that isn’t to say that his vocal, the rest of his band and everything else weren’t on their A-game, because they definitely were. If you get a chance to see Gary Clark Jr. perform this spring or summer, you need to jump on the opportunity. No matter what type of music you gravitate towards, you will definitely leave the performance in awe.
Check out our photos from tonight’s performance below and check out the remaining dates from Gary Clark Jr.’s headlining tour here.
Photos by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Gary Clark Jr.
If Trouble Was Money
Don’t Owe You
You Saved Me
Please Come Home
Down To Ride