The Drive-By Truckers kick ass. This was my first time seeing them, but it will definitely not be the last (if I can help it). Why did it take me so long? Well, stupidly, I steered clear of these guys (and gal) for awhile. I wrongfully assumed I wouldn’t get into them because of the twang and storytelling, figured it was too much country for my liking. Then a couple years back, a friend played Southern Rock Opera for me. I did a complete 180. I had to burn a copy immediately.
To get me in the mood, I jammed out to The Dirty South on my drive down the mountain to Richmond. The weather was lovely on Friday night, warm with a nice breeze. We missed most of the opening band, Patty Hurst Shifter, while in line for wristbands and beer. Luckily, the crowd was small enough that we managed to stake a spot up front, center stage. At about 8:00 pm, the Truckers came out, passing a fifth of Jack Daniels while they tuned their instruments. Patterson’s big ‘ole grin is instantly engaging and infectious. “I love you too, fucker,” he replies to a cheering fan as they launch into the first song.
Bulldozers and Dirt
After The Scene Dies (NEW – Patterson)
A Ghost To Most (NEW – Cooley)
The Living Bubba
Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife (NEW – Patterson)
Self Destructive Zones
Tales Facing Up
18 Wheels Of Love
The Story Of The Road Cases
Shut Up And Get On The Plane
Let There Be Rock
Angels And Fuesalage
The highlight of the night for me was the second half of the set – especially “18 Wheels of Love”, a song that’s rarely played. Patterson told a hilarious story of the song’s history – how his mother went to work at a trucking company, met Chester the truck driver, and this song was Patterson’s wedding gift to them. “They were married at Dollywood – I can not make this shit up,” he said. He then told the crowd that Chester has been quite sick as of late, and he was dedicating the night’s performance to him and a speedy recovery. Keep him in your prayers. “Road Cases” was another great one, introduced with a story about the rise and fall of the Atlanta Rhythm Section. “Let There Be Rock” had the whole crowd screaming along with fists raised in the air, “Bon Scott singin’ let there be rock!!!”
It was also cool to hear some of the new material. Patterson revealed that they had just started working on the album a few weeks ago, and they’d be back in December when it was finished. Scott Baxendale, custom guitar extraordinaire, joined the stage for the encore of “Buttholeville” into “State Trooper”.
I was sad to see them go after just one set, but I have no right to complain when it’s free!