all words: Andy Hess
all photos: The Internet
Let’s chalk this one up to pacing, length, a lack of familiarity and weighted expectations.
Everything that I look for in a usually great performance was there. The band was tight. The sound was great. The accompanying light show was a spectacle. They even played songs that I wanted to hear. But there was still something missing from the Drive-By Truckers performance Friday night that just wasn’t doing it for me. It started off great with a few tracks from their most recent album The Big To-Do and a lot of songs I wasn’t expecting to hear from across the band’s thick discography. As the night wore on, the whiskey marinated version of the meat and potatoes rock and roll that I love so much started to taste stale.
That’s not to say there weren’t a lack of highlights: “The Living Bubba” was inspirational, “Hell No, I Ain’t Happy” made for a great sing-a-long, “Birthday Boy” is still the best song on The Big To-Do and “Marry Me” lived up to its name. Other than a few more treats here and there throughout the set, most of the night dragged. “Zip City” was a disappointment to say the least. On record, the track is the centerpiece to the band’s best work Southern Rock Opera, but Friday night all the magic was lost on me. The expected Jim Carrol Band closer of “People Who Died” felt rushed and wasn’t nearly as unhinged as I had always dreamed it would be.
During the nearly three hours of music, Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley traded jabs and singing duties. Disappointedly, bassist Shonna Tucker was criminally underused during the set as she always is a pleasant surprise throughout the band’s discography. The band is celebrating their 25th year together this week and they seemed genuinely grateful for being able to play music together that long even with all the backstage drama that dominated them over the past decade. It might take a second take live and a bit of studying before the show, but for this show at least, it was a disappointment. “The Tough Sell,” indeed.
Drive-By Truckers @ 9:30 Club Set list:
The Fourth Night of My Drinking, Where The Devil Don’t Stay, Drag The Lake Charlie, 72 (This Highway’s Mean), The Living Bubba, Panties In Your Purse, The Opening Act, Get Downtown, (It’s Gonna Be) I Told You So, After the Scene Dies, Three Dimes Down, Hell No, I Ain’t Happy, When The Pin Hits The Shell, Your Daddy Hates Me, Sink Hole, Birthday Boy, The Tough Sell, Buttholeville (w/ State Trooper), Zip City, Let There Be Rock // The Flying Wallendas, Women Without Whiskey, Everybody Needs Love (Eddie Hinton cover), Marry Me, Puttin’ People On The Moon, Shut Up And Get On The Plane, People Who Died (Jim Carroll cover)