Gary Clark Jr.

ACL Live Shots

ACL Live Shots
Photo by Gary Miller

Gary Clark Jr.

Zilker Park, Sept. 16

Back when Gary Clark Jr. first set foot onstage at ACL 2002 at the age of 17, he was the kid, the heir, the contender. Clark entering the ring in 2011 is different. With him now comes over a decade of experience with real old-fashioned guitar blues that he began playing as teenager, practicing a hard resonating tone over fancy fingerwork, which he also demonstrated on "When My Train Pulls In" and "Don't Owe You a Thing." With a Band of Gypsies trio behind him, Clark pulled off the Hendrix comparisons easily with a charisma to match his chops and attracted enough journalists to make one of those "if-a-bomb-dropped" jokes, not to mention admirers like Ray LaMontagne. Clark's wicked twist on Jimmy Reed's "Bright Lights Big City" left the biggest message of all: Gary Clark Jr. is going to need a bigger stage next time he plays ACL.

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