After a strong set from Fantastic Negrito, another notable Chicago Blues Fest alum took the main stage early on Saturday night, curating maybe one of the best set lists we’ve seen from him.
Gary Clark Jr. was an unexpected addition to the Lollapalooza roster — not always the most welcoming platform for blues artists, who have battled to stay a part of popular music in the past several decades.
But over the past six years since Clark’s major label debut, 2012’s “Blak and Blu,” he’s become a considerable crossover blues-rock artist for a new generation, echoing the rise of Jimi Hendrix; Clark was in fact slated to play the now-defunct Woodstock 50 festival, no doubt as an homage to Hendrix on the original lineup.
With a peace sign pin on his hat, full organ accompaniment and a trio of exceptional electric guitarists, the Austin native certainly gave off those vibes tonight. When it came time to choose a cover song (as many artists have done this weekend), however, he went with the Beatles’ classic “Come Together” in a rousing performance that ended the set.
Other memorable moments included the evocative title track from Clark’s new album “This Land,” which vocalizes the fight for the right of people of color to feel they belong in current-day America; the verse repeats the hot-button phrase “go back to where you come from” and supposedly was inspired by Clark’s own run-in with a neighbor in his home state of Texas.
Though he didn’t have the special guests he did at his Chicago Theater show in March, Clark’s elongated, twisting guitar solo at the end of the ballad “Pearl Cadillac” was so voluminous it could probably be heard at Buddy Guy’s Legends down the street.