I first witnessed the female phenomenon that is Beth Hart at Lollapalooza some 15 years ago when the headliners on the main stage were Metallica, Rancid, Soundgarden, and The Ramones. Tucked away on a little stage among the merchandise was this skinny little hippy girl with cathedral pipes and a throaty wail. Flash forward to last night and Hart is a full-blown, full-grown woman. The pipes are still there along with manic intensity that draws you close then strangles you. This chick is dangerous when she tips her head back and lets fly. Comparisons to Janis Joplin are to be expected, and shouldn't be dismissed. I think Hart is better; I mean when was the last time we've heard something new from Joplin anyway?
Hart played a surprisingly reserved set while warming up the sold out Kodak Hall crowd. It only gave a glimpse every now and then of her sheer power. Songs about addiction and lost love were sung with such conviction and promise that they waxed church-like and tear-jerk. I notice as I get older I'm more susceptible to these outburst of emotion and welled up at the beauty and magnitude more than once. I think it's good for you. Try it and cry. You'll see.
Gary Clark Jr. followed by easing into a set of what is easily to become the next generation of blues thought. He balanced finger style dexterity with long drawn out sustain and sinister low-register riffs that personified murder. Clark is a no frills player and performer prowling about the stage with his Red SG playing exploratory solo patterns without an ounce of fat. It was terse, economical, and bad ass. This is the future, and the future is blue.