Bathed in purple light, Gary Clark Jr. is a rock god in the making, and hundreds of excited fans got to witness the power of his music recently at TLA.
The Austin, Texas guitarist,who started playing at age 12, roared and rumbled onstage with “When My Train Pulls In.” He tore into a number of hits from his recently released “Blak and Blu” album on Warner Bros Music. He churned out “Don’t Owe You a Thang” from his “Bright Lights” EP that spurred the kind of foot-stomping and hand-clapping found in the churches of the Deep South. As the crowd chanted “Gary, Gary!” and tweeted its adoration in real-time, Clark ripped up the stage with long guitar solos and boundless energy.
Charged with saving the blues, he is striving to be more than just a flash-in-the-pan success.
“I was really inspired all at once to do all kinds of different things,” he told his hometown newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, citing an array of inspirations including Skip James, OutKast, Green Day, Nirvana, The Strokes and Marvin Gaye.
He wants to make an indelible mark on the industry, and if he keeps going at this feverish pace, he just might do it. The Prince-like “You Saved Me,” his gleaming falsetto on the emotional “Please Come Home” and the R&B-esque title track are moments of real beauty on “Blak and Blu.” But on stage, it’s undeniable that blues and rock is where he lives and thrives.
Hailed as the next Hendrix by the New York Times, Clark has big shoes to fill and he’s working his way in them. He’s collaborated onstage and in-studio with some of today’s hottest entertainers, including Nas, Alicia Keys, The Roots and Eric Clapton, and he performed at the White House for the Obamas alongside Mick Jagger, B.B. King, Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy.
Couples writhed and hips gyrated as Clark, who oozes cool, and his band performed the 1960s sounding “Ain’t Messin’ `Round.” When he attempted to address the crowd, his voice was lost over the din of screaming fans. But Clark cut through the noise and communicated everything he needed to say with his guitar before ending on a high note with the raucous rock and roll of “Numb.”