Pitchfork Day 1 2012: Willis Earl BealPosted by Kevin Kloecker
Whether you like him or not, Willis Earl Beal has soul. The man is from Chicago and playing in his native town let us glimpse into his act just a bit more than anyone else that day. He gave it everything he had, and it did not disappoint. He came out on stage mentioning he used to ride his bike around this area (Union Park) and the show had a sort of nostalgia only Chicago could have after that.
He started with a cappella, something crowds do not see much today with so much integration of technology and production into every sound. It was nice to just hear a man who had something to say, and something to sing, cutting straight through to us rather than wading in any bullsh*t we don’t need.
He broke into some harder rock after that, a reinterpretation of blue like you haven’t heard in years. Willis Earl Beal isn’t even close to legendary, but his set arguably did remind you of finding some Nat King Cole for the first time. The man has soul, and sharing that with the audience yesterday gave us a real and grounding experience.