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Gary Clark Jr. Thrills in Return to Surly Brewing’s Festival Field

Gary Clark Jr Surly Brewing First Avenue Surly Festival Field
Gary Clark Jr. performing at Surly's Festival Field in 2018. Photo Credit: Justin Bailey

Surly Brewing has quickly become one of my favorite places in the Twin Cities to see live music. The amount of care and effort that goes into their festival field concert series every year is incredible, and they get better and better at what they do with every passing show. 

From the amenities inside the brewery to the setup of the festival field, complete with ample amounts of porta-potties, food trucks, and beer tents, everything is done exquisitely well. I suppose that’s what you get when you combine one of Minnesota’s best breweries with the talents of one of Minnesota’s best music venues, the famous black box with people in it. 

If you have yet to catch a show out at Surly, you really need to do so as soon as possible. I truly can’t say enough nice things about the amazing process they have over there, and while the Twin Cities are already one of the luckiest markets in the country when it comes to extraordinary live music venues, Surly has earned their place in that conversation. 

Gary Clark Jr.’s performance on Friday night was, of course, no different. I was lucky enough to catch his performance at this venue last year, and while it would have been difficult for anyone to top, it was never in doubt for a performer of his stature. 

I will admit, I got a little too intoxicated (read: drunk) during this concert, something I very rarely do, so I apologize if my breakdown of the show is a little shorter than usual, but I think anyone who was in attendance, either this year or last year, would agree it would be difficult to put his performance into words. 

Gary Clark Jr. just sort of gets it, you know? It’s as if he doesn’t so much create his music as much as he just sort of lets it flow out of him, and that is something that shines through incredibly brightly during his live shows. It’s so easy to get lost in the beautiful sounds that surround you, so much so that you even start to forget where you are. 

I wrote in my review of Bonnaroo that while watching Childish Gambino’s performance, it didn’t feel as much like a concert as it did a spiritual experience. That’s the same sort of feeling you get watching Gary Clark Jr. perform. It feels so much more significant than a typical concert. 

Sticking to his usual, expertly-crafted setlist for the performance, his show combined hits from all his releases, and of course, the encore that beats almost all other encores, his cover of The Beatles “Come Together.”

This is the part of the evening where things start to get a little foggy for me. My girlfriend had a great SnapChat video of me, holding two beers up in the air, singing along and swaying back and forth to the song, which is one of the last things I actually remember from Friday night. 

What I’ll never forget, though, was just how much fun I had, and that’s the beauty of catching shows at Surly. It offers a perfect combination of live music, drinks, food, in a space which allows quality time with friends and loved ones to thrive, leaving every attendee with unforgettable memories they can cherish forever. 


Surly Brewing’s Festival Field concert series continues this week with a performance by Ben Folds & Violent Femmes, with a handful of other shows taking place over the next month or so which can be found here! And, of course, you can watch our site for full recaps of every show! 

Author: Justin Bailey

Managing Editor & Social Media Admin for Music In Minnesota. Graduated Valedictorian of my class from IPR - College of Creative Arts with an A.A.S. in Music & Entertainment Business. ICON Award Winner. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Written by Justin Bailey

Managing Editor & Social Media Admin for Music In Minnesota. Graduated Valedictorian of my class from IPR - College of Creative Arts with an A.A.S. in Music & Entertainment Business. ICON Award Winner. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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