Words & Photos by Will Wittmann

On a brisk 47 degree evening in Huntsville, Alabama an eager line of fans waited with a chill that would, in just a mere few hours, pale in comparison to the chills that would be gifted to them by a young man from Austin, Texas.

Immediately when walking into Mars Music Hall on the 15th of November, you could simply feel a different energy in the air. A clamor of conversations about what favorites would we hear, which ones we wouldn’t, and if we would discover a new favorite. Regardless, everyone knew they were in for a truly beautiful and intimate performance as the simplicity of the stage production drew you in as if it were just you and the performers.

Then, just like a snap of the fingers, the red light came up, the fog disappeared, and on stage came BlacKillac; a rap duo out of South Austin, Texas. Bringing with them 39 minutes of break neck energy to the stage, they put an ear to ear smile on everyone from the youngest audience member to the oldest! Fueled by a produced melody that bordered on EDM as much as it did Hip Hop and a lyrical style the likes of Dizzy Wright that in a way sounded simultaneously fresh and new, as well as an equal homage to the legends of the past. Their ability to engage and interact with the audience while tying the local culture into their performance truly made them an instant fan favorite and guaranteed they would be leaving the building with a newly added group of supporters.

The moment BlacKillac had left the stage, a fervor washed over the building as the idle blue lights settled along the smoke covered stage. For the next 21 minutes, spanning the entirety of the intermission, a young man by the name of Eddie who happened to have been the first fan in the venue shared with me his favorite songs of the opening set and his expectations of what we were about to see. Exclaiming that there was one major thing that he felt in his soul when listening to tonight’s headliner for the first time; an unconscious osmosis he seemed to begin as soon as he would touch his guitar.

No sooner than these words had escaped Eddie’s mouth, a subtle yet deafening change in the atmosphere occurred, and like a man possessed by the spirits of Blues and Soul legends of the past, Gary Clark Jr. walked onto stage with the quiet bravado of a man who knew his instrument and craft no less than the inside of his eyelids. Not one for starting slow, the show was headed up with a powder keg explosion of ‘Bright Lights’, which would be a perfect taste of what the entirety of the show would be; passionate, heavy, and nothing short of ethereally transcendent. Much like the colors of the Autumn leaves scattered along the streets of Huntsville, the performance from start to finish was as dynamic and beautifully laid out as ever. A meandering journaling of newer statement pieces from This Land all the way back to tried and true fan favorites off Blak and Blu. The true highlight of the show in the soul of a musician, in my opinion, rested within the solo of his encore performance of ‘Our Love’. A goosebump inducing, yet simple, solo that spent its time telling your heart a story more than overwhelming it. A 3 minute novel within the structure of a love song that left the entire crowd feeling as though had just received an embrace from a love they never knew they had. Emotionally exhausted, the crowd listened to the final notes of the set, all the while being left at a crescendo or a musical cliffhanger, if you will. Left to revel in every little emotion Gary had just put them through before exiting like a shadow.

Regardless of whether or not someone had been a fan of Gary from his days of conjuring the spirts of Delta Blues forefathers on Worry No More, discovered him through his powerful Hendrix-like rendition of ‘Come Together’ for The Justice League, or were in the infancy of their fan-hood having found Gary through his more recent string of TV performances, I truly believe every single person leaving that venue had received one thing from Gary.

Much like Hendrix’s The Ultimate Experience, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Texas Flood, and Albert Collins’ Collins Mix all changed Gary’s life, he in turn did the same for everyone lucky enough to see him take flight that night in Alabama.

TheWaster.com | Our Love