Gary Clark Jr. Dazzles at the Fox Theatre
by Madisyn Siebert
photos: Cory Weaver
Gary Clark Jr.’s performance on August 12 at the Fox Theatre took concertgoers on a journey throughout his career as a musician. As a backdrop of banners dramatically were lowered, displaying the aesthetics of his album, the audience knew they were in for the telling of his story from the moment the mysterious man with the signature wide-brimmed hat took the stage.
The illusion of shadows only continued as the band began to perform instrumentally with only the occasional lights pulsating to the beat, complementing the music. From the start Clark made it clear that this set would be built upon three major components: build-up, alternating lights to play with shadows and a wicked guitar solo in each song.
The stage was finally illuminated, and the man of the hour was center stage—eyes covered by his hat—with a cool, collected grin still evident. The lights then lit up Clark’s backing band, revealing that appearance-wise, each member had a unique style. You would have never been able to guess that this group of five knew each other, let alone were in a band together.
The band, though differing in personal style, were clearly there for the same vibes. The variety of looks differed just as much as the type of music. Clark’s sound covers all ends of the spectrum—from rock to jazz to even gospel. Some concerts make you feel like you are only experiencing a single album, but Clark made the audience feel like they were experiencing a full discography.
For his statement pieces, the artist displayed perfect build-ups throughout the night by increasing tempo, or even volume. One could feel the anticipation throughout the songs, waiting for Clark to crescendo to the peak moment before quickly reaching the end of the song. What complemented these build-ups so elegantly was the range of guitar solos throughout the night. He displayed a pure sheen of talent, while making it look effortlessly cool. Clark’s voice paralleled in talent to his guitar skills—not always an easy feat for musicians. The man brought out falsettos and altos, covering every range that so perfectly fit with his almost every genre and feel.
Clark covered many of the crowd's favorites from “Low Down Rolling Stone,” “This Land” and “Pearl Cadillac.” He also knew how to connect with St. Louis, recalling the last time he was in town, which was a performance before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in June. He even took the blame for the Bruins scoring at that game, as he had just been shown on the Jumbotron at Enterprise Center before a Bruins’ goal. He encouraged the crowd by starting a “Let’s Go Blues” chant.
In the beginning of the show he did not go out of his way to interact with the crowd, almost like there was a barrier between him and those offstage, but gradually his engagement level, character and confidence increased, and he connected with the audience through some give-and-take.
Clark also engaged with his opening band, the Greyhounds, bringing them back on stage to perform “Don’t Owe You a Thang.” While the space on stage may have been limited, the energy that this group of musicians emitted was not. Seeing them all break character and enjoy each other’s presence on stage made the audience feel like they were in on the fun. It truly helped bring down the cool, mysterious persona that came with Clark and helped show him more as a person who can jam out with his friends.
The show felt like it had captured a moment from the end of summer, ending with the classic rendition cover Clark is known for, “Come Together” by the Beatles. All of these moments throughout the night made the audience understand the skill and pure talent Clark has, while also helping develop the story of the night that Clark had perfectly laid out.