Jimi and Stevie Ray are smiling down from the rock heavens. The reason? A new rock legend has begun to receive the recognition he deserves. His name? Gary Clark Jr.
On Monday, The Commodore Ballroom was blessed with a night of world-class soul, funk and R&B. San Francisco-based funketeers, Monophonics, began the night by blasting the room with their brand of white-boy psychedelic neo-soul. Originally an instrumental ensemble, the band has evolved their sound tremendously within the past two years with the inclusion of some incredible vocals provided by Kelly Finnigan. Reminiscent of CCR’s John Fogerty, Finnigan’s vocals are coarse, abrasive and overflowing with soul. Doubling on keyboards, his musicianship is awe-inspiring and full of genuine passion. If you don’t want to be hit with any wayward sweat beading off of Finnigan’s hair, don’t stand in the first three rows. This is swamp sweat too, because although they’re from California, Monophonics breathe sounds of the bayou.
Monophonics pumped out a rowdy, foot-stomping set. After they finished, a mass of googly-eyed funk-lovers could be seen standing eagerly around the merch booth to clasp their hands on an audio memory of that fantastic set. Their sound is an new spin on an old sound (i.e. a fresh version of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang”) and, if this evolution is a hint of what’s to come, it’s only improving. If you’re a fan of groove, soul, funk, anything that makes your head kick back, not by choice, but out of pure musical takeover, listen to Monophonics. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.
Gary Clark Jr. is one of the true embodiments of a classic rock legend. His style, sound and general dispositions, drips with the essence of cool. Every guy wants to be him and all the girls want to be with him. As cliche as that sounds… it’s the bona fide truth. There’s no other way to describe this man’s stage presence.
Gary’s set ran over an impressive two-hour span. He had the crowd at his magical, blues-infused fingertips. One fan in particular, standing directly in front of Gary’s mic, represented the audience’s mood by shouting out screams of orgasm to mimic our collective eargasm. This was love-making music set to shades of pink, blue and red. The Fifty Shades of Gary is a book I would read without hesitance, sure to be packed with Hendrix-inspired ( he played Jimi’s “Catfish Blues”) psych riffs and Vaughn-influenced licks… Maybe, even, some sex tips for the shy guys out there. He could teach a class on how to be cool. But, that would defeat the first rule of being cool: don’t try to be cool.
Nevermind. Back to the music.
Gary deserves to be included in the highest category of guitar legends: Clapton, Vaughn, Hendrix, Guy, King, Mayer, Beck… etc. Vaughn and Hendrix have been the heaviest influences on Gary Clark Jr.’s sound, it’s evident in his lack of hesitance to bluesberry jam the night away. He makes it seems so effortless, gliding from one side to the other never even glimpsing at the frets or his fingers. It almost seems as if he’s bored, but then he starts to sing. Playing songs from his entire repertoire, Clark Jr. played songs “When My Train Pulls In”, “Numb”, and an Albert Collins cover of “If Trouble Was Money” to really showed off his bluesy edge. Gary’s vocals are smooth like honey, soft like baby powder, and allow him to be way more than just another guitarist who can play like the greats. He can sing too.
The funk. The soul. The blues. Monday night at The Commodore was full of timeless music that will be around for a long, long while. Easily one of the best concerts of the year. This is music that grabs you by the balls and the heart at the same time. A deep feel that comes from honesty in spades and drips honey-toned lyrics; an authentic sound that music enthusiasts can identify with. Who says music these days is no good? All you have to do is scratch the surface.