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    Gary Clark Jr. - The Masonic - San Francisco - Photos courtesy of Louis Raphael Photography
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SF CONCERT REVIEW: Austin Axeman Gary Clark Jr. Slays at the Masonic in San Francisco (REVIEW+PHOTOS)

in SF Concert Reviews by


Gary Clark Jr. seems to be a man of few words. At last night’s sold out show at The Masonic I counted at the most five, which consisted of: “How we feelin’ San Francisco?” I guess when you’re a man of his talent and have such a command of the almighty six-string, you let the instrument do the talking for you. And talked it did. It talked, whispered, screamed, hissed and cried all night long. It’s no wonder Rolling Stone magazine calls his guitar playing “One hell of a mean guitar tone, playing solos that claw and scream their stories with ornery splendor, but Clark won’t be genre-bound.”

He’s been called a bluesman by some, by others a rock n’ roller, what can’t be debated is his undeniable brilliance. On Thursday night when the lonesome axeman came to town, all of San Francisco seemed to agree as they all flooded the Masonic. The place was filled beyond capacity, as he sheepishly made his way to the stage wearing his trademark beanie and leather boots. Once he plugged his guitar into the amp, the fuzzy tone that he’s now famous for took over the halls of the newish venue and turned a weekday concert into what could best be described as a religious experience.

The Austin guitar slinger’s accolades have been pouring in for years now since he first made a name for himself. He’s even been called by Buddy Guy in a Rolling Stone interview that came out a few years ago, “As good as it gets,” says Guy. “Gary reminds me of T-Bone Walker more than anybody I’ve ever seen. We’re all trying to do this to keep this music alive, because the blues is not being played.” But it’s not just blues that comes to mind when you hear his music, there’s definitely some Hendrix, Steve Ray Vaughan, Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes in the magic potion as well.

And even though you may have heard some of this before, what makes him truly stand out in today’s musical climate is the authenticity and passion that comes across in his playing. It’s that certain something that can’t be replicated by a machine, that comes from playing organic instruments by some really good players with a hell of a lot of heart and emotion. It’s a refreshing sound. One that’s not heard very often today, but one that’s surely missed. All you need to do is ask the people in the audience last night for confirmation of that.

Set List

Can’t Stop Loving You
(Elmore James cover)
Bright Lights
Travis County
Next Door Neighbor Blues
Our Love
Cold Blooded
Ain’t Messin ‘Round
When My Train Pulls In
Don’t Owe You a Thang
Please Come Home
You Saved Me

Down to Ride

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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