25
Feb
11

Live Report: Drive-By Truckers @ 9:30 Club




18 February 2011

Washington, D.C.


Southern Rock stalwarts the Drive-By Truckers offer an explosive live show that is enjoyable to both diehard fan and dragged-along friend in refreshingly equal measure. In part it’s because the music comes from such a familiar, timeless place — where the grooves are straight-laced, the solos triumphant, and the sliding ring finger of Duane Allman never really left us.

Also, you can’t hear a single song lyric at a DBT’s show to save your life, so it doesn’t really matter if you’re not hip to most of the band’s staggering nine album catalogue. Blame that on a trifecta of screaming lead guitars, courtesy of Patterson Hood (Gibson SG), Mike Cooley (Fender), and John Neff (Gibson Les Paul, pedal steel). (To their credit, bassist Shonna Tucker, drummer Brad Morgan, and keyboardist Jay Gonzalez all play exceedingly loud too.)

It’s a shame we couldn’t hear more lyrics last Friday — Truckers songs tell impeccably crafted tales of gritty Southern redemption. (Like Hood’s “This Fucking Job”, which they mysteriously didn’t play!) But bugger that. My friends and I came to the 9:30 Club to have our faced melted by guitars, full stop. I even snuck in a flask of Jack for the occasion, tipping it way back as the barreling boogie of Cooley’s “3 Dimes Down” started in.

You’ve got to love a band that passes the mic between more than one lead singer: The songs follow each other that much quicker, and it seems like the group can keep up the energy forever. The Truckers have three singers, however (Tucker crooned a few, like”Dancin’ Ricky” from the new Go-Go Boots), and after two hours of punishing volume, you’re kind of ready for the houselights.

But that’s my problem. There were plenty of fans around me who knew the words to every song. Some may have even come back Saturday for the second sold-out Truckers gig. Such reverence might explain the unique choice in stage decoration: faux stained-glass windows inlaid with serpents, oversized kick drum decorated with a BDT’s logo… signposts to a true Southern Rock Revival.

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