Guitar’s big day to rock
Feast on the revival of loud guitar rock’n’roll, writes
HE crowd surrounding the amphitheatre for Gary Clark Jr’s set at Lollapalooza in the US in August stretched further and further out of its domain and into the surrounding gardens.
This gifted guitarist from the self-proclaimed live music capital of the world – Austin, Texas – has been one of the most talked-about musicians to emerge in the past few years. Clark has performed alongside A-listers from Mick Jagger to Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and BB King and his major label debut record, Blak And Blu, has had the critics frothing with praise.
The 28-year-old axeman and singer spearheads an impressive contingent of artists on the 2013 Big Day Out bill whose music is steeped in the roots of rock’n’roll.
‘‘Is the blues coming back into style? I don’t know,’’ Clark says.
‘‘People say things come back around and I think it’s just about that time that people are rediscovering the foundations of rock’n’roll, where did it all come from? Folks have been more curious about the blues and rock’n’roll. There’ll always be kids strapping on guitars.’’
Clark’s biggest fans next to the ladies are guitar nerds. The Texan musician can spot them instantly.
‘‘I can always tell when they are in the crowd because they are watching the hands. So I’ll turn around a bit just to mess with them – ‘you don’t need to see that, let me have it for myself for a minute’,’’ Clark jokes.
Another Big Day Out band channelling the spirit of rock’n’roll are Californian indie rockers Delta Spirit.
They believe the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s seminal Nevermind album has inspired another generation of kids to pick up guitars and also credit the enduring grassroots success and acclaim for Wilco and My Morning Jacket for keeping the rock flag flying.
Frontman Matthew Vasquez believes loud guitar music has to be made by loud people.
‘‘Rock has been this really super-passive creature as a genre and people don’t know how to commit to bands. Bands like Wilco and My Morning Jacket are unashamed of getting people to participate and listen to loud rock’n’roll music,’’ he says.
‘‘We’re an extroverted band and we want people to get involved. Rock’n’roll should have confidence because it’s the best genre, dammit.
‘‘I think the Nirvana factor is also coming into play now. That music is in our DNA, especially our generation where your older brother fed it to you as ‘important music’ that was loud and very intense. You can be heavy and heartfelt at the same time and not be a jerk.’’
Delta Spirit also appear to be embracing rock’s party spirit. Their fans may want to take plastic ponchos to their gigs because these guys love a giant food fight.
‘‘I tried to start a food fight the other night and was throwing tacos and burritos at everyone and screaming at them. It went great. Taco Bell sponsored a show we played and I figured out what to do with all of those tacos,’’ Vasquez says.
Nashville brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall will introduce the garage rock of their duo Jeff The Brotherhood to Big Day Out crowds. With a sound that captures the raw vibe of early Kings of Leon, they are likely to make an impression on Australian music fans who have yet to discover their seventh record, Hypnotic Nights.
Relentless touring in the US – some of it in a converted school bus – has helped spread the word about this talented pair.
‘‘It’s funny because touring at our level has a threshold – you could do it all year for years and not get past a certain point until people start talking about you,’’ Jamin says.
‘‘I think hopefully that point will come soon for us. We might be this close but we might also be this far. Is it time for rock music to come back? I think so. Why not?’’ Guitar star Gary Clark Jr and (below) fellow Big Day Out stars Jeff The Brotherhood
Gary Clark Jr, Jeff The Brotherhood, Delta Spirit and more play the Big Day Out, at Parklands Showgrounds, on January 20.
Delta Spirit are steeped in the roots of rock’n’roll