Albert Hammond Jr. w/ Gary Clark Jr. 5/21/16

(i) lineup

(1a) Albert Hammond Jr.
(2b) Gary Clark Jr.

(1a) (Albert’s) setlist

  1. Rude Customer
  2. 101
  3. Touche
  4. Carnal Cruise
  5. GfC
  6. Everyone Gets a Star
  7. Born Slippy
  8. Spooky Couch
  9. Losing Touch
  10. In Transit
  11. St. Justice
  12. Side Boob
  13. Coming to Getcha
  14. Holiday

(1b) highlights

  • Albert!!!! just seeing him makes me so happy, man
  • the setlist! (despite showing up a few songs late, ugh); walking to the venue, I said, “all I really want to hear are ‘Born Slippy,’ ‘Losing Touch,’ and ‘Side Boob’ – it’d be cool if he played those” AND THEN HE DID
  • the arrangement of the songs alone was on fire
  • this feels so stupid to say, but Albert actually sounds EXACTLY like he does on his albums; for the other Strokes’ members who have solo works…..they don’t.
  • everyone in his backing band is cool and doesn’t look bored; insane that this isn’t a typical thing but whatever

(1c) lowlights

  • doors opened way earlier than usual, I was running late because of work, and missed the first couple of songs, SO devastating

(1d) overall thoughts

I’ve been looking forward to seeing AHJ perform his third solo album Momentary Masters since it came out nearly a year ago! I missed the last time he came to NYC, so I was psyched to hear he’d be playing a double headlining set with Gary Clark Jr. at Webster Hall. I saw him perform once before opening for Jake Bugg and promoting his EP AHJ, and he killed it. I’ve loved all his work (honestly more than half the discography of The Strokes) since his practically perfect first solo album, Yours to Keep.

My favorite things about Albert’s work really comes down to how his songs are catchy as hell, all sounding very much like him but distinct from each other, have that shimmer-factor guitar rhythms and solos, sweet vocals, and lyrics with a lot of heart. This Webster Hall show really hammered down the fact that nearly every one of Albert’s tracks could be a single – you can’t help but sing along with all of them. His knack for writing melodies is just so top notch, almost unparalleled. The performance of his newer songs along with the older ones (some of those are 10 years old now, wtf???!) melded perfectly, and his stage presence really brought those tracks even more to life for me.

Bottom Line: Albert Hammond Jr. is the best member of the Strokes, and a quarter of his solo discography is better than 80% of the Strokes’ discography, and I’ll pretty much fight with anyone who disagrees. Also Julian Casablancas and his his Voidz side project is so embarrassing compared to this, like wow.

(2a) (Gary’s) setlist

    1. Bright Lights
    2. Travis County
    3. Next Door Neighbor Blues
    4. Our Love
    5. Cold Blooded
    6. BYOB
    7. Ain’t Messin ‘Round
    8. When My Train Pulls In
    9. Don’t Owe You a Thang
    10. Please Come Home
    11. You Saved Me
    12. Shake

Encore:

  1. Things Are Changin’
  2. Church
  3. Down to Ride
  4. Grinder

(2b) highlights

  • Gary is one hell of a guitarist, like FOR REAL
  • never really encountered GCJ or most of his discography, so it was cool going in blind and being impressed by him
  • really good stage presence

(2c) lowlights

  • some guitar solos can be too long…sacrilege, I know, but it’s true

(2d) overall thoughts

Didn’t know much about Gary Clark Jr. before seeing him, other than knowing he was a cool Southern black dude who plays bluesy-ass guitar super well. And that was pretty much it! In a good way. The crowd was super into him and his songs, which created a fun, positive environment.

He reminded me a little bit of a much-less-boring Ben Harper with elements of Jack White. When his songs were most focused on melody, the chorus, and his vocals, I was so on-board. Nearly every song, however, fell into that free-form jazzy-type that led to solos lasting minutes. It wasn’t too meandering most of the time – I quite enjoyed the bluesy aspect of it all, even if it isn’t quite my usual jam.

Bottom Line: Gary Clark Jr. is naturally super cool and can play the hell out of the guitar; he strikes me as a totally less awful and douchey version of John Mayer, but what do I know.

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