March 29, 2009

Let There Be Rock



I know I posted a DBT song a few weeks ago. Overkill?

Maybe.

But this time, there's a purpose: I risked life and limb to see the Drive-By Truckers in St. Louis on Saturday (there was a big snowstorm which I hit just around Sullivan...pulled over at a truck stop cause I couldn't see and read the Post-Dispatch and drank coffee).

Anyway, short review:

Unlike other bands, who nurse beers onstage, the Drive-By Truckers take swigs right from the Jack Daniels' bottle.

If you've listened to their music, it makes perfect sense. Alt country/Southern Rock. Heavy on the "Southern" part.

Patterson Hood has a thick Alabama accent which makes for awesome onstage drunken rants against right-wing politics.

Mike Cooley doesn't say much, he just stands there, smoking cigarettes and playing lead guitar. Sometimes, when he's not singing lead, he becomes a rock icon and steps to the front of the stage to let girls (and, maybe more often, 20-something males with beards) ogle him. He's not really the rock star type, he looks more like Thurston Moore than Eddie Van Halen, but he can shred.

Shonna Tucker is the "sex symbol" on bass, but she can actually play. And sing. And write. A nice contrast to Hood and Cooley's grizzled whiskey voices.

They ripped through about 17-20 songs in two hours. I lost count. But a few highlights (just pretend there are all from my show): "Hell NO I Ain't Happy," with requisite audience singalong; "Let There Be Rock" (which is NOT an AC/DC cover); "Where the Devil Don't Stay" with a sweet bottleneck/slide guitar solo from the THIRD guitarist; "Lookout Mountain," obviously, the best hard rock song they've recorded; and the already-embedded "Ronnie and Neil," their paean to all things Skynyrd (and Neil Young).

In short: the Drive-By Truckers prove that indie kids need to stop being afraid of classic rock. Because they have a foot in both camps.

Hood explains in the "Let There Be Rock" video, as well as on the entire Southern Rock Opera album, that yeah, a lot of classic/Southern blues-type rock sucks (like Kansas). But there's a certain authenticity to a lot of it. Just a bunch of unpretentious dudes playing the only music they really know how.

It's kind of their M.O.-they're trying to defy the stereotype that the type of powerful blues/country based-music has to be played by a bunch of dumb hicks. Or the general stereotype that all Southerners are dumb hicks.

I could go on, but their albums (especially Southern Rock Opera) explain it better. Go listen. You'll want to pump your fist and sing along. You might not even realize what they're doing (to the genre, to the stereotypes, to you) before you're hooked.

It's totally worth a snowstorm, that's for sure.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Tony Gonzalez said...

I've always been suspicious of DBT, in part because of the crowd I saw waiting to see them at one of the bigger clubs in Athens, Ga.

From these few samples, I wonder what you would think of old Toadies stuff.

March 29, 2009 at 10:27 AM 
Blogger JHitts said...

What was wrong with them? This crowd at this one was pretty great. Decidedly older and non-hipster. Almost a rarity in concerts these days.

March 29, 2009 at 4:07 PM 
Blogger Tony Gonzalez said...

I got a frat boy vibe. I was likely mistaken.

March 30, 2009 at 1:16 AM 
Blogger JHitts said...

Maybe it's the difference in communities. They could have a different following in the actual South (as in, maybe the Southern frat boys don't "get" what they're doing, and only listen because its SOUTHERN ROCK, BOY!).

But this one was mostly late 20-and-early-30-something men who looked like working professionals but still had beards.

March 30, 2009 at 3:11 PM 

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