THE ROCK SHOW: Drive-By Truckers w/J Roddy Walston and The Business - 12/30/11

For the Drive-By Truckers it’s been a long, at times completely ball busting, climb to the top, but if the fact that the band completely sold out it’s 3-night run at the world famous 9:30 Club is any indication then it would appear that the payoff is now. This was the final show were to cover in 2011, and the Truckers are a band I’ve been looking forward to covering since the site began. Not because I’m a super-fan or anything (though I have been in the past), but more because I, as do many people who were in attendance Friday night, have a little bit of history with the band.

A little over a decade ago, the band found their footing in the Richmond Virginia (a fact that Patterson referred to several times Friday night actually) It started with the Capitol Barn Dances, but they didn’t really take off until they set out on the road behind Southern Rock Opera and later, Decoration Day. Twice a year, the band would take over Alley Katz (a small-ish venue in the heart of downtown) for the weekend, and twice of year the city would run out of beer, bourbon or both. The Drive-By Truckers back then were a band that took no shit, and no prisoners.
 
Back then the Truckers blew out the power for an entire city block, yet continued to play over the hum of emergency generators safety lights until it was restored...and then kept on going to past 3am. Back then the the  audience was left as exhausted, sweaty, and exhilarated as band, and it truly was, as Patterson was known to say, like a giant musical “church”


Rock and roll come down from the mount to save your soul. 

So yes, I’m biased, maybe even jaded. But that didn’t keep the Drive-By Truckers from fairly rocking my face of this past Friday in the least. It definitely took a while, but I’m happy to say that I haven’t seen a Trucker’s show as satisfying as Friday’s in years.

“How could that be?” you ask? Look, there’s no denying that some of their albums have been, um, not quite as good as the others. It happens to the best of em. But there’s always been a gem or two on every record, regardless of the sets overall quality. And while the band simply can’t match the enthusiasm that they exhibited at those Alley Katz shows so long ago, they more than make up for it now in the quality of their set.

Putting songs like “Southern Thing” or “Sinkhole”, two songs that are the sound of the band at their most raucous, early in a set would seem a miscalculation for any other band. In a set positively stuffed with fan favorites like “Women Without Whiskey”, “The Company I Keep” and a positively self destructive sing-a-long to “Hell No I Ain’t Happy” to end the show proper...and lets not mention the quadruple gut punch encore of “Ronnie and Neil”/”Zip City”/”Marry Me”/”Buttholeville”...where else is there even room? Somewhere along the line the band has finally, and sorta gloriously slipped into a sort of classic rock mode, their Tom Petty years if you will, where they can play for an audience for close to three hours and still, amazingly be playing, for the most part, their “hits”.

And that’s really the true triumph for the Drive-By Truckers this past holiday weekend. It wasn’t selling out the 9:30 Club for three nights. It wasn’t even having the legendary Booker T sit in with the band on New Years. It was their arrival at that place where their future is thiers for the taking. They’ve built their legacy and now they get to inherit everything that comes along with it. That’s almost as exciting to see as the bands hunger was in it’s early days, and from now until they decide to “roll the credits” it’s something that they can, and should be shamelessly proud of.

Given the recent lineup issues (bassist Shonna Tucker left the band a few weeks ago, and sit-in bassist Dave Barbe has one of those pesky full time jobs and can’t tour) if the Trucker’s decided to take a break, or even call it quits I don’ think anyone would blame them, but here’s to hoping that the ROCK SHOW will continue to roll on, at least in some form, for years to come.

 

SETLIST
The Fourth Night of My Drinking 
Gravity's Gone 
The Southern Thing 
Where the Devil Don't Stay 
Puttin' People on the Moon 
Self Destructive Zones 
Sinkhole 
When The Pin Hits The Shell 
A World of Hurt 
A Ghost To Most 
Goode's Field Road 
Women Without Whiskey 
Ray's Automatic Weapon 
Birthday Boy 
The Company I Keep 
Get Downtown 
Hell No, I Ain't Happy 
Encore:
3 Dimes Down 
Used To Be A Cop 
Zip City 
Ronnie and Neil 
Marry Me 
Buttholeville 

 

PS: We were going to include J Roddy Walston and The Business in this review, but quite frankly, any band who can channel Jerry Lee Lewis by way of Ronnie Van Zandt by of The Marshall Tucker Band  and not have it come out as pure rock schlock, is one that deserves our full attention and not just some blurb in a Truckers review. Hopefully we'll be seeing the band in a boozy club not much unlike the clubs that the Truckers used to destroy at will very soon and have a full report for you then.