Even the cool aura that typically oozes out of Gary Clark Jr. and his colorful mix of Gibson and Epiphone guitars couldn’t help but cave into the sun’s heat that filled Forest Hills Stadium on Saturday. The outdoor venue in Queens welcomed the Austin bluesman and My Morning Jacket for a double header of mid-summer magic on what was another steamy end to a summer day in hot and sticky New York City.
While Forest Hills is still set to welcome a handful of fantastic artists to its stage later this summer, including Tom Petty, Chance the Rapper and The National, Saturday night’s concert will certainly go down as one of the venue’s seasonal highlights for 2017.
Gary Clark Jr. is certainly capable of headlining his own outdoor New York City show at this point in his career. The obvious aside, there wasn’t anyone in attendance who was complaining about a shorter set from the Austin guitarist, whose nine-song performance was almost as hot as the sun reflecting off those golden sunglasses of his. Gary’s music doesn’t give off the same wildly energetic that most fans think of when they imagine a guitar hero. His style is that of a more reserved, feel-type performer, one who exchanges wild and loud for smooth and melodically refreshing. Anyone who can start out a set with the simple riff of “Catfish Blues” and still have the audience on their feet by the end must be doing something right.
My Morning Jacket’s set was an entirely different beast. Clocking in at a manageable two-and-a-half hours in length, the rock band took the stage just as the sun began to hide behind the stadium bleachers. From there on out it was up to the stage lighting and the endless amount of energy coming out of Jim James and company to provide some luminescence under the darkening summer sky.
The band tore through songs from their eight-album catalog, putting together a career-spanning mix of Americana jam and psychedelic art rock. As twilight turned into night and the band entered the heart of their set, one couldn’t help but feel Forest Hills transform from a communal artistic gathering into a primal, surreal experience. By the time James finished the singing the final powerfully-haunting notes of “Victory Dance,” Forest Hills was no longer a tennis court or a concert venue. It had become a church of free-spirited music fanatics with no interest in staying on earth for an evening. About 10,000 adventurous souls joined the band on an almost three-hour journey through the musical universe as the idea of time and present location evaporated from everyone's minds. That’s what a great My Morning Jacket concert feels like, and there’s just no way to put an experience like that into words.
My Morning Jacket Setlist:
The Way That He Sings
A New Life (Jim James cover)
Tropics (Erase Traces) ->
I Will Sing You Songs
Compound Fracture ->
Spring (Among the Living) ->
Victory Dance ->
Off the Record
Phone Went West
State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)
Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2
One Big Holiday