Gary Clark Jr. electrifies Tulsa for two nights straight

The blues. Music made by the people, for the people. Born out of sorrow and distress, the blues serves as the ultimate catharsis for a beaten soul. Famous during the Great Depression, took a back seat to disco for a while, and now in today’s world, it’s no surprise that blues is making a major comeback.
At the head of this blues revival, is none other than Gary Clark Jr and his band. Part of what makes the blues so relieving and understandable is its gritty style. Back in the day, this meant old twangy guitars, sloppy sounding drums, raspy voices and maybe a washboard. Today, Clark gives a whole new meaning to the word “gritty.” His sound stands apart from other guitarists, embodying a very distorted, bitey, yet toneful and warm sound. And it’s easy to tell that his sound is of major concern to him, as he is constantly changing guitars between songs and adjusting knobs during solos.
I got to experience this sound first hand, front and slightly off-center. It is truly exhilarating. The first thing to hit you is the sheer volume, which is quite a bit louder than watching him live on YouTube. But it is by no means a simple rock concert. The band at full volume together is monstrous, but they know how to bring it down and control it. Clark’s solos are the staples of his music and particularly his live shows. His sound cuts through the air like a chainsaw and gives his incredibly expressive playing the drive and power that can melt your face or move you to tears.
The band came out with a bang and kept it that way for quite a while. The night all together was a wild ride. I was actually a bit disappointed he didn’t play many of his slower songs, as they are simply beautiful. However, Clark awarded an encore to the audience, who did not quiet down a single decibel since he left the stage the first time.
When he returned, he was armed with his favorite Blak and Blu Gibson Casino hollowbody and a neck-mounted harmonica. He began this second set solo playing a soft gospel-y song called “Church,”, and I was pleased.
The closing performance was what really set the concert apart and made it one of those special, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. His opening act all tour was a young girl named Jackie Venson, a soulful, blues guitar player and singer herself. Before the final song was played, Clark brought Venson on stage and announced that this was the final show of his tour, and felt this would be an appropriate way to end it.
They proceeded to play Clark’s most popular song, a heavy tune called “Bright Lights.”. Venson was given the big solo spot, and played beautifully. Her playing isn’t as distorted and focuses less on raw power and emotion, but more on style and interesting notes. Her solo extended into an open solo, where the main “song” dropped out and only the drummer and bass player were there to give her a beat. Judging by the way Clark spoke and how the two interacted on stage, I imagine this was the first, or at least one of the few times they’d played on stage together.
The concert was one for the books. I sincerely hope anyone reading this got to be there, or is at least inspired to check out the blues master. I obviously highly recommend it, even if you’re not an avid “blues” listener. His genre is definitely a blend, mixing blues with rock, alternative, indie and pop. Everybody can relate to his music in one way or another. And that my friend, is ‘cause we all got the blues.

Post Author: Sam Harrell