Gary Clark Jr and Black Pistol Fire kicked off the Lollapalooza weekend at the House of Blues, Chicago.
Even if you didn’t shell out the $300+ for tickets to Chicago’s biggest festival of the year, you did not have to miss out. Prior to both of their Day 1 sets, Gary Clark Jr and Black Pistol Fire performed to a sold-out House of Blues on Thursday night.
Black Pistol Fire exploded onto the stage, entertaining the audience from the second they came out. This mighty duo has a sound that is way bigger than the two of them. This Canadian pair is often compared to the White Stripes, but you can hear a wide variety of influences in their music.
Kevin McKeown’s wild and energetic performance kept the crowd on their toes as he regularly jumped into the front rows, guitar in hand, whilst Eric Owens seemed to be getting regularly compared to Animal by everyone watching.
Hailing originally from Toronto, Ontario, both settled in Austin, TX back in 2009. It is easy to hear the blues influence they have picked up during their time in Austin. It mixes perfectly with their rock and punk sensibilities to create their own blend of blues rock n’ roll.
This opportunity to open for Gary Clark Jr and to perform at Lollapalooza has been a great platform to introduce them to new fans. Within five minutes of them taking to the stage, people could be heard asking who they were and looking them up on their phones, and rightly so.
A phenomenal performance was put on by the duo. 45 minutes was not enough and hopefully they will be back with their own headlining tour soon. It’s fair to say a large number of attendees from Thursday night would be the first to buy those tickets.
Soon it was time for Gary Clark Jr to take to the stage. Gary is clearly a talented musician and effortlessly threw out blues riffs that had everyone across the Music Hall moving as one. Not only a skilled guitarist, but also a very soulful singer.
Gary’s music spans a number of genres, playing a strong blues riff one moment before swaying more towards soul and R&B the next. Whilst performers do not have to be pigeonholed into one genre of music, and most will be influenced by a wide spectrum of styles (as with Black Pistol Fire), it sometimes feels like Gary skips between too many genres in an effort to please his audience that, on Thursday, was made up mostly of Millenials. As a result, it can feel like he is scratching the surface of what he is capable of; you can’t help but feel that if he was to dig a little deeper, he could be truly outstanding.
Let’s, however, not take away from the fact that he is opening up blues-influenced music to a younger crowd who (with the recent death of BB King and the advanced age of some of his peers) may very well have completely missed out on it.
The city of Blues clearly loves him, with his Lollapalooza set coming just a year after headlining the Taste of Chicago festival. Judging by the packed to capacity show, next time will surely see him moving on to even bigger venues.