An intimate show with one of the biggest blues icons in the business was a real treat. Gary Clark Jr. – the modern-day Hendrix himself heralding from Austin, Texas – had a four-night stretch at Los Angeles' Fonda Theatre beginning November 12th presented by Goldvenvoice and KROQ, right smack in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard. Joining him for night three of four on November 14th was Bambaata Marley and surprise childhood guest Eric (who just happened to be in town and hop onstage for the encore... more on that later).
That's Gary Clark Jr. for you... you never know what you're about to experience.
The venue was calm, cool and collected until Bambaata Marley took the stage, surprising all with a bluesy, rock-n-roll set to contrast with his legendary last name. This up-and-coming grandson of Bob has proven able to pivot his sound to mould any genre of music, be that reggae, rock, hip hop and anything in between. It's quite impressive to witness, as he stands as the only Marley to branch out from the rootsy family tree. Direct support for a guitar god, Bambaata held his own, shredding on electric guitar and amping up the energy before Gary Clark Jr. entered the evening.
And, what an entrance, indeed! Dressed head-to-toe in his classic 1920's attire, with soft magenta and blue lighting, Gary Clark Jr. and his band launched into track one of the 2012 album that escalated the GCJR hysteria, Blak and Blu. After two successful Fonda Theatre performances, he "Ain't Messin' Around" night three. Bouncing between album versions, extended solos and acoustic twists, Gary Clark Jr. even premiered a new track off his forthcoming album – a reggae one! That's right, GCJR has some roots up his sleeve, so stay tuned for more to come! It's almost ironic that a Marley showcased uncharacteristic blues and a blues man surprised all with reggae that night. In what seemed like a blink of an eye, Gary went through his entire set, ending on his latest megahit: the updated, edgy cover of The Beatles' "Come Together". Flicking his guitar pick and thanking the crowd, the band left all too soon.
Chants of "GARY, GARY" echoed thunderously throughout the venue until Gary Clark Jr. finally indulged the crowd, this time without his band, to peform a hauntingly, sweet solo version of "Blak and Blu" and "So Good" before his players joined back in. Stopping to tune his guitar, Gary called for his childhood friend Eric (aforementioned) to join him onstage, for he had heard he was in attendance. The two traded guitar amp plugs back and forth, switching off solos in an impromptu shred-off that had to be seen to believe. The newcomer helped out with "Bright Lights" to finish off the night; hearing three guitars on the track instead of two was absolutely mind-melting. What a one-of-a-kind show poised between recurring venue nights. That's Gary Clark Jr. for you... you never know what you're about to experience.
Photography by Kristy Rose