Gary Clark Jr. & Shakey Graves at the Santa Barbara Bowl on September 30th, 2016
I live so close to the Santa Barbara bowl, it's strange that I haven't been to this venue up until now. But as far as first impressions go, I walked away very impressed. It is a big amphitheatre, which means it takes a big presence to fill the space. Up first was Shakey Graves from Austin, Texas, and he certainly fit the bill. Alejandro Rose-Garcia's solemn music contrasts beautifully with a very engaging stage presence that almost demands audience participation. My first introduction to Shakey Graves was the folksy "Dearly Departed," but his music has serious range. Bluesy tunes like "Roll the Bones" are a perfect complement to headliner Gary Clark Jr. He ended his set by jumping in the air, a dynamic passing of the torch to the main event.
The stage was dark, flooded by blue lights to highlight the brim of Gary Clark Jr.'s signature hat. This is a man that knows how to make his guitar sing. In between classics like "Take Me Down", he would play riffs that would send a chill down your spine. If you've ever seen pictures of Gary, you know that he's got style, and he knows how to play a set that just oozes cool.
Words and Photos by Adam Cox