July 10, 2017
A vicious thunderstorm and torrential downpour seemed to be the perfect natural metaphor to herald a show featuring Gary Clark Jr. and My Morning Jacket. The buzz around the two acts taking the stage together might very well have contributed to the swirling weather system above the crowd as they made their way toward the Uptown Amphitheater. The masses stood huddled in clear ponchos as the rain hurled down, all grumbling about the puddles forming in their shoes or the insane lines pouring out of VBGB. Amongst the groaning, an air of giddy anticipation persisted as the storm began to dissipate and the gates were opened.
Even more fitting than a thunderstorm, a rainbow formed in the background as Gary Clark Jr. took the stage, a clear sign from Mother Nature saying: “Pay attention to this guy.” Hailing from Austin, TX, the 33-year-old budding legend has shared the stage with such monumental acts as Eric Clapton, B.B. King, and the Rolling Stones on his journey to rock ‘n’ roll fame. Those in the crowd who were familiar with Clark immediately flocked to the stage as the first feedback rang from the warm amps but, by the end of the first song, everyone in the amphitheater had their eyes on the band. Clark’s hallmark is in his ineffable blending of rock, blues and soul. He practically reaches into the thick heat of the Deep South to pull the very roots of the genres from the earth, tying them in with tastes of modern R&B to make a sound that bridges the gap between generations. Throughout the set, Clark seemed to channel the essence of the great ones before him, clearly displaying his own tenacity and brand of musicianship. Watching him felt heavy, like knowing that you’re seeing something that people are going to talk about for a long time. History in the making.
As the changeover on stage began, the crowd dispersed but quickly reformed in the stands, this time in greater hordes, filling nearly every seat and available space on the lawn. Sometimes nature has a way of making everything theatrical and, as the sun set behind the crowd, the stage lights came down and shouting erupted throughout the amphitheater while the band sauntered to their respective places on stage.
After being together for nearly two decades, it seems that My Morning Jacket has lost no steam along the way, consistently making their performances bigger and grander (especially the continued use of the enormous disco ball). As the band opened up with “Mahgeetah,” a song from the album It Still Moves in 2003, a light shined down on the enigmatic Jim James, sporting his iconic green coat, sunglasses, and a mess of hair twirling around his face as the band got into the swing of the set. The combination of James’ ethereal voice and the band’s groove sparked an excitement throughout the crowd that felt nothing short of electric. Beams of light literally danced behind the band, changing color and moving to the beat of the song while the overhead floodlights cast a bright, colorful glow over the entire scene.
The combined smells of spilled beer, soaking wet clothing, weed smoke and pure exhilaration hung over the audience while the band played hit after hit. They finished out the night with an explosive five-song encore and proved without a shadow of a doubt that no amount of rain, thunder, or lightning can stop this band from shining their own bright lights through the storm.
Check out the remaining My Morning Jacket and Gary Clark Jr 2017 tour dates.