Gary Clark Jr. w/ Kydd Jones
Moody Amphitheatre, Austin, Texas
August 22, 2021
On a muggy, almost 100 degrees, summer night, under the shadow of the Texas Capitol, the Moody Amphitheatre was abuzz for night two of Gary Clark Jr. One of Austin’s favorite sons, Clark treated the fans to his heavy, infectious guitar stylings and smooth vocal grooves.
With Covid-19’s specter looming over our indoor music venues, the Moody Amphitheatre is a welcome addition to Austin’s stable of venues. It’s capacity is comfortably 5,000 audience members (from box seats with waiters, to cheaper lawn seats and adirondack chairs) and is equipped with state of the art stage lighting and sound. Outdoor concerts are preferable these days (Austin remains at stage 5 Covid restrictions), and Moody has immediately put itself in the center of that conversation.
Gary Clark Jr. is Austin through and through. He has certainly come a long way from cutting his teeth as a teen at Antone’s to being a multi-grammy winner and one of the defining guitarist/songwriters of his generation. With the ability to shred like Hendrix and a soulful falsetto like Maxwell, GCJ’s sound embodies swings in grooves in unexpected ways.
The set began with a grand intro to “Bright Lights”, one of his signature songs that features his hard stomping, earnest blues style. Later in the set, a groovy guitar riff led to the aforementioned falsetto belting the following lyrics, “Wooooooo she wants me/but she won’t give it away. So she taunts me/I’m too cool to break.” It was a shift to the soul/R&B influences in his music a la Curtis Mayfield. The classic sounds continued with “When I’m Gone”, a catchy song with a doo-wop feel that tells a simple story about a man cherishing every moment with his paramour.
After heavy rock/blues and soulful R&B, Clark takes another genre turn with the reggae influenced “Feeling Like A Million Bucks”. The song still has the band’s substantial rock foundation that melds well with the traditional reggae off-beats. The crowd was hyped, out of their seats and dancing. I even spotted one fan conducting like a band director, absolutely in the moment with Clark and the band.
Clark’s voice can be as soft as lamb’s wool and sharp as an eagle’s talon whenever he wants. This ability shines in the entire performance of “You Saved Me”, a power ballad that was one large crescendo of his voice and guitar, with the zenith being an epic guitar solo at the break.
Let’s talk about one more surprising genre shift. Clark dipped into his inner punk rocker with the absolute foot-stomper “Gotta Get Into Something”. It was a muggy night, but the crowd definitely didn’t mind getting sweatier by jumping and dancing.
Clark has established himself as a titan of the modern rock scene (globally). His classic style and raw talent truly puts him in the vein of other larger than life talents like John Mayer, Derek Trucks, Jack White, and the like. His live performances evoke another one of his song titles, “Ain’t Messin’ Around”.
The set was full and long, with many guitar changes including the iconic Flying V, and nice 3-song encore. When Clark gets in front of his home crowd, he goes all in- leaving it all on stage in a gesture of thanks to his people and his hometown.
We love that Clark always brings on local artists for his shows. Opening the night was Austin’s hip-hop/jazz fusion artist Kydd Jones. His flow was smooth and definitely fit the mood of the beginning of the night; chill and peaceful. The chemistry with Bomani Ray Barton on guitar shined with an assertive delivery of his lyrics.
His set started with the track “ICU”, about his time in an actual ICU after major neck surgery. That kind of vulnerability immediately endeared him to the crowd. Jones gets political on track “Goblin” about George Floyd. “Y’all wanna be civil or want a civil war?” that paints a vivid picture of the landscape in America today.
The highlight track of his set was definitely “Jordan Moment”. “Just dropped 50 in New York/Jordan moment”, referring to MJ (Michael Jordan) dropping 50 at Madison Square Garden. He assigned the crowd their part and they loved it. This ‘Kydd’ is going places-watch for it.
What About Us
When I’m Gone
Feed the Babies
You Saved Me
Feelin’ Like a Million
Gotta Get Into Something
Low Down Rolling Stone
When My Train Pulls In
The Guitar Man
Blak and Blu
3 O’Clock Blues