Red Butte was at maximum capacity on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, because every direction I looked families, students, hipsters and “Wine:30” types filled my vision. For once, the concert actually started exactly on time, with Los Coast warming their hands (and the crowd) up with a guitar driven instrumental. Los Coast’s singer, Trey Privott, has a voice which sounds almost exactly like Charles Bradley, and when the band broke into a heavy rendition of their most popular song, “Monsters,” I heard cheers and a handful of catcalls from the crowd as Privott smoothly belted out the lyrics.
By the time Los Coast played their grooviest song, “(Everything But) The Kitchen Sink,” they had clearly dialed in their sound—people throughout the crowd started getting onto their feet to dance. At some point, someone started blowing bubbles, and the cocktail of psychedelic scenery and phaser heavy grooves had me on my feet too. Unfortunately, at about that same moment, Los Coast announced that they were done. Their short, 30-minute set left me desperately wanting more music from Los Coast.
Keeping with the prompt and organized theme of the night, Gary Clark Jr. was out on stage after one of the shortest gear switches I’ve ever seen Red Butte pull off. Clark stood atop a small riser on the stage, silhouetted by intense stage lights to looking like a movie star cowboy. The band kicked the set off with a sassy version of “Bright Lights,” while behind them an awesome array of hypnotizing lights ushered the crowd forward on a cosmic journey through guitar riffs and head-pounding choruses.
As I listened to Gary Clark Jr. I couldn’t help but think of The Black Keys. The twangy guitar sounds, the deep, heavy singing, the thick organ pads. It all sounded so similar. But the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach only wishes he had the guitar chops that Gary Clark Jr. has. I was blown away by guitar solo after guitar solo as Clark played. Clark’s incredible falsetto, and his band’s ability to create a roller coaster of energy for each song were the icing on top, as the band played “Feed the Babies” and brought the energy up about as high as it could go. By the time the sun had fully set, the crowd was on their feet swaying with the music.
Sometime the second half of the set, Gary Clark Jr. let us all know it was keyboardist Jon Deas birthday, and then the band jumped right into a sassy, synth heavy version of “You Saved Me.” Deas showed off his skills with a couple funky solos which had the crowd jumping with the pulse. During the rest of the set, Gary Clark Jr. used a much more narrative melodic style akin to the style of Tauk with furious solos thrown into every song.
There’s no doubt about it, Gary Clark Jr. and Los Coast blew the roof off the place (well … at least they could have if Red Butte had a roof). Gary Clark Jr. closed off the night with a clean, upbeat encore, which even after three solid hours of music still filled me with energy. The band ended the night with a surprisingly heavy cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together”, and the explosive finale had everyone dancing and singing along. After such a killer show, there’s no doubt I’ll be first in line next time Gary Clark Jr. or Los Coast are in town.
See previews of the last of the Red Butte 2019 season here.
See all of our music coverage here.