House of Blues – Boston, Massachusetts
April 2, 2010
Contributing Writer : Garret K. Woodward [ TheRFW.com/blog/Garret ]
Photo by – Danny Clinch
“Your writing is damn good. It’s just a shame you missed out on rock ‘n’ roll. It’s over. You got here just in time for the death rattle. Last gasp. Last grope.”
- Lester Bangs, Almost Famous
Amid a polluted planet of white noise and supposed rockstars, the Drive-By Truckers have remained the one of the last vestiges of true grit across a spectrum of musical bullshit.
Lansdowne Street was an array of drunken college students and obnoxious sports fiends. Sauntering into the trendy House of Blues, I was immediately slapped in the face with an invisible wet towel of sweat, stink, and pent up anticipation for one of the premier acts on the rock circuit.
The three tiers of a pristine cake venue spewed a scene of cut-off sleeves, greasy-brimmed hats, wads of well-worn chewing tobacco (the Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboy had seen better days before its current title as spittoon), and a look of angst adorning anxious faces.
“Drag The Lake Charlie” set the fuse of emotion with a guitar laden, ominous opener exposing a range of felonies through the fiery throat of Patterson Hood. Backed by a cast of southern rock outlaws, Hood has rightly risen to the occasion as a leading frontman with a calming, welcoming presence similar to Tom Petty or Neil Young.
“3 Dimes Down” showcased the scratchy vocals of Mike Cooley and crisp pedal steel work by John Neff- piercing through you like falling down naked onto a gravel road.
Passing around the usual bottle of Jack Daniels between numbers with an eager enthusiam akin to a joint at middle school party, the sextet wipes passion from their foreheads and thrusts wholeheartedly into the moment before them.
The southern gothic style to their lyrics is truly a testement to the freewheelin’ nature of the melodies themselves.
Wailing on his guitar and screaming cries of help many hold inside (“This Fucking Job”), Hood is the spokesman for the common man (“Hell No, I Ain’t Happy”). Cooley clearly represents the fiesty drunkards (“Women Without Whiskey”), the weary (“Uncle Frank”), and those abused or discarded into the cracks (“Birthday Boy”).
It seems this tour has really been Shona Tucker’s shining moment. Utilizing her skills more than ever on the latest record, The Big To-Do, the bassist grabbed the reigns and took charge during “(It’s Gonna Be) I Told You So” and “Home Field Advantage”.
Finally settling in as a permanent member of the group, keyboardist Jay Gonzalez traded licks with drummer Brad Morgan and Neff as the crusaders floated through saddened carnival memorial “The Flying Wallendas”.
Staying in step with their ongoing theme of social awareness and ultimate redemption, “Rockin’ In The Free World” made a fitting tribute to Young- a direct ancestor of progressive action through music the group pursues relentlessly.
It’s an interesting sight to witness such an aggressive presense within the cushioned confines of white picketfence New England. The Drive-By Truckers are vastly becoming the torchbears of not only what’s wrong with this country, but are also pointing the blind towards the idea that addressing the issues goes farther than stubborn ignorance and the notion, “out of sight, out of mind”.
The problems are clear and the lines have been drawn. Thank God we have the Truckers to step over those lines of poverty, addiction, and injustice one show at a time.