HOUSTON – 10 years ago, Gary Clark Jr. released his debut album, Blak and Blu, and on one of the tracks, Bright Lights, he sings, “You’re gonna know my name by the end of the night.” Well, after the Red Bull SoundClash at 713 Music Hall, no one would ever forget him if the crowd hadn’t known him back then.
PREVIOUSLY: Gary Clark Jr. and Paul Wall face off during the Red Bull SoundClash concert in Houston
The audience was electrified from the start and eagerly awaited both artists to take the stage. And the wait was definitely worth it, as Gary Clark Jr., who appeared first, wasted no time in giving the crowd exactly what they wanted.
It’s probably safe to say fans weren’t sure what to expect during the show. I knew about the show firsthand and got a preview of what the cast were looking forward to, but nothing prepared me for what I witnessed.
(Photo courtesy of Red Bull Music)
Red Bull SoundClash somehow managed to give viewers a concert where two elite artists with different styles could showcase their talents, but also subtly show how a fan of Paul Wall can easily become a fan of Gary Clark Jr. and Vice can be reversed.
Although the show was intended to appear competitive, it was more of a collaboration, allowing two of what one of the hosts called Blackillac “Texas cousins” to bring audiences together in spectacular fashion. Understandable, but both artists told me days before the concert how impossible it was to say who was better than the other.
“I mean I’ll be honest man if this is a competition I lost,” Paul Wall said with a laugh. “He’s so cold. And everything he does, man, when he’s playing guitar, it’s so mesmerizing on stage, man. It’s just so mesmerizing.”
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“He can say that, but the guy has hits,” Clark Jr. replied. “This man has record after record after record, so much respect for him.”
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Those feelings were then seen in action on stage, where the audience (if they noticed) got a glimpse of Clark Jr. genuinely enjoying listening to Paul Wall’s music.
Even Paul would sometimes admit onstage after a hypnotic performance by Clark Jr., “How am I supposed to keep up?!”
That’s not to say that Paul Wall didn’t pull out all the stops for his performance. Especially during his rendition of Lil Troy’s hit classic Wanna Be A Baller.
So in a battle between two music greats, who will come out on top? The answer was obvious: Texas. It was only by bringing both performers together that listeners could experience something so artistically beautiful, albeit intrinsically making.
This is because Texas’ deep musical history is rooted in a number of genres. So it was no surprise that Paul Wall and Gary Clark Jr. effortlessly performed related hits like “Swanging in the Rain” and “When My Train Pulls In” with a country twist or even mixed hip-hop into the mix with a hard rock vibe. Songs like “Break Em’ Off” and “BYOB”.
It was also clear from the start that both artists were having the best time bouncing their creative energies off each other, but a better question might have been who enjoyed whose music more?
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This reviewer would argue Clark Jr. because before he finished his set, he shared a heartfelt message with the audience expressing his admiration for Houston and Paul Wall. Considering the differences being built among Texans, who might playfully claim that one city is better than the other, it was a welcome moment to hear the Austin native say a few kind words about Houston before an exhilarating performance of ” Bright Lights” delivered.
“Houston I love you man I really do,” Clark Jr. said. “I used to come here as a teenager and play blues clubs to get out of school and rock with you guys, it was amazing. ”
“Call everyone Paul Wall man,” he added. “I used to want to play at Swisha House. I have 8-10 mild heat bars that no one wants to hear but shout out to them guys, lots of respect.”
However, the show did not end after that. It wasn’t until both artists got a chance to literally share a stage to perform “They Don’t Know” after standing on opposite sides of the venue.
Gary Clark Jr. and Paul Wall (Photo courtesy of Red Bull Music)
Of course, the crowd roared as Houston and Austin literally came together to represent all of Texas for one epic night. And despite calls from the audience for an encore, the microphones had already dropped.