Drive-By Truckers | 10.02.10


They gave it 120 percent, and though the house may not have been packed, every soul in it was grinning from ear to ear.

Photos: Amy Burger
The Pageant, St. Louis
Athens, Ga.-based Drive-By Truckers returned to The Pageant Saturday night in support of their latest album, The Big To-Do (ATO Records) playing to a crowd of mostly hardcore fans who packed the venue’s lower-level to hear the Truckers unleash their special brand of whiskey-driven Southern rock. The audience was a bit more intimate than the band’s past couple St. Louis shows, with the balcony closed (a trend I’ve noticed a lot this year – hard times I suppose).
The folks that did show up didn’t seem to mind, however, and neither did the Truckers, who as usual did not disappoint. DBT is a band that harkens back to the glory days of rock n’ roll, before video and image took over – the days when all a band had to do was come out and pour their hearts and souls out on the stage.
As in past shows I’ve been to, DBT built slowly at first, easing folks in, this time with a boozy, melodic tune from The Big To-Do called “The Fourth Night of My Drinking,” front man Patterson Hood warming up his gruff vocals. He then introduced “Stroker Ace” guitarist Mike Cooley for “Where the Devil Don’t Stay” from Dirty South.
DBT is known for its “three-axe attack,” with three guitarists including Hood, Cooley and John Neff, who played off and on with the band from its inception before becoming a permanent member in 2006. But it’s when Neff sits down to the pedal steel that the magic truly happens – that gentle, dreamy sound that has become a staple of DBTs softer side on some their best albums.
The band showcased a good portion of songs from The Big To-Do, as well as the catchy Cooley anthem “Three Dimes Down” from the lengthy and inspired Brighter Than Creation’s Dark – their first record featuring standout female bassist Shonna Tucker, who has consistently proven her place amid this testosterone-driven group.
Picking up steam like a freight train with each pass of the whiskey bottle, the Truckers then drew fans completely into their world for the angry, fist-pumping, “Hell No, I Ain’t Happy” from Decoration Day, Hood growling into the microphone, eyes closed, making us feel his pain. They gave it 120 percent from that moment on, and though the house may not have been packed, every soul in it was grinning from ear to ear.
They treated old-school fans to several cuts from their masterpiece, 2001’s Southern Rock Opera, an ode to Lynard Skynyrd, including Cooley’s hard and fast “Shut Up and Get on the Plane” and “72 (This Highway’s Mean),” as well as a devil-horn inducing “Ronnie and Neil” and “Let There Be Rock” during the 30 minute encore. The later song pretty much sums up what the Drive-By Truckers are all about for me. This tale of wasted youth and rock n’ roll in the 1970s South is so real and stripped of pretense that it’s every rock fan’s story, and Hood tells it convincingly with a faraway smile as he sings, “I never saw Lynard Skynyrd, but I sure saw Molly Hatchet…”
If that all weren’t enough to leave us satisfied, the Truckers closed the show with a raucous cover of the Jim Carroll Band’s punk classic “People Who Died,” doing it justice and then some, but all with their own flair – Hood dropping to his knees by the end, only to get back up and tear the roof off again. The band then graciously bowed and thanked their fans, who truly could not have asked for more.  | Amy Burger


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