Sometimes when a talent is too good and great beyond his years, it’s impossible to not take notice. In fact, people often times take greatness for granted when it seems far too routine. Thankfully, Austin’s Gary Clark Jr. is a musician whose talent hasn’t escaped audiences and, in fact, has captivated them worldwide. We got on his bandwagon early at this point last year and to say things have picked up for the guitar virtuoso would be putting it mildly. Let’s trace how Clark Jr.’s career has launched since we first discovered him.
For starters, last year’s Bright Lights EP was one of the biggest surprises of 2011. Outlets far and wide lauded the effort, including Rolling Stone, which gave it four stars. It’s been a long time since an EP inspired such a strong reaction from fans and critics but this one did. With only four songs, two studio cuts and two live performances, people could clearly get the grasp of what the guy is all about, which is to say, that’s he impressive.
At first glance, the tall and lanky musician doesn’t look like more than a singer/songwriter, but when you hear him sing and play guitar, you have no choice but to turn around and take notice. Mixing a soulful, yet powerful voice with a transcendent guitar sound, Clark Jr. has a wide appeal. Fans of blues music could point to his guitar and find something they like, while others could rock and yes, even stoners could enjoy the rockin’ riffs.
Clark Jr.’s live shows is what was garnered him the appropriate amount of hype for a new artist. For those of who you haven’t seen him live, you’re missing out. One of his big breakthrough performances came at this year’s Coachella. After what was a talked-about set during the first weekend, nothing compared to what he did on the second. The tent where he played was so packed that people couldn’t fit and spilled to the outlying areas, which is quite an accomplishment considering not only did he play on the first day, but an early timeslot to boot. Yet people came to hear him play.
The same thing happened at Lollapalooza. Though he was a better time (Sunday at 4), the crowd was even more rabid and attentive than earlier this year. There had to be a good 20,000 people there rocking out, and yet, it’s likely that a lot of them hadn’t heard his music. Even as the sun flexed its muscles on the Chicago crowd, they let Clark Jr.’s guitar do the talking. Fans in Philadephia at this weekend’s Made In America festival are in for treat: not only do they get to him perform once, but as of yesterday, he was added to play on both days and is the only musician to do so, which is a treat in itself.With an album coming out this fall, the anticipation can’t be greater than it is to hear he’s been working on. If the Austin-native has a big radio hit on his next album, he’ll prove that good music can in fact best all of the other crap out that’s dominating the radio. Until then, all we can do is enjoy what we have and that’s pretty damn good for now.