Saturday, February 11, 2017

Drive-By Truckers at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Patterson Hood & Mike Cooley
Patterson Hood was born in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the son of David Hood, the bassist of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. Patterson began writing songs at the age of eight, and by the time he was 14 he was playing guitar in a local rock band. John "Mike" Cooley is from Tuscumbia, Alabama, near Muscle Shoals, and received his first guitar at age eight. While attending college in 1985, Hood and Cooley formed the punk-influenced band Adam's House Cat, then performed as a duo under the name Virgil Kane, and eventually started Horsepussy before splitting for a few years. Hood moved to Athens, Georgia, and began forming what would become Drive-By Truckers in 1996, luring Cooley to relocate and join. Drive-By Truckers has had many musicians come and go, and its sound has alternated between alternative country and southern rock over the course of 11 studio albums. Drive-By Truckers presently consists of Hood and Cooley on vocals and guitars, Jay Gonzalez on keyboards, guitar, and accordion, Matt Patton on bass and Brad "EZB" Morgan on drums. The band's most recent album, the politically-charged American Band, was released on September 30, 2016. Hood is presently based in Portland, Oregon, while Cooley remains Alabama-based.

In a city that has hosted consciousness-raising demonstrations of political dissent over the past three months, Drive-By Truckers' performance tonight at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom offered additional fuel for the fire. For many in the audience, the concert might have been simply a concert of hip-swaying, southern-inspired rock, but for those who listened more closely, the concert was a canvas of social commentary. Opening with the rallying cries of "Surrender under Protest" and "Darkened Flags on the Cusp of Dawn," both songs inspired by the 2015 campaign to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse after the racist shooting massacre inside a Charleston church. Other songs denounced gun violence, including controversial police shootings, and other contemporary issues. The social justice message rang through to the band's closing song, a cover of Neil Young's "Rocking in the Free World." The performance was filled with angry vocals, raging guitar work and livid passion leaking into everything, with Hood repeatedly kneeling at the edge of the stage as if to appeal to the audience for bonding. The current political climate has manifested in many expressive musicians performing better than ever, and Drive-By Truckers has now joined this pack. Hood and Cooley may be southern men, but they stood defiantly against their redneck culture via outspoken rock and roll expression.

Visit Drive-By Truckers at www.drivebytruckers.com.

Setlist:
  1. Surrender Under Protest
  2. Darkened Flags on the Cusp of Dawn
  3. Women Without Whiskey
  4. Filthy and Fried
  5. The Living Bubba
  6. Where the Devil Don't Stay
  7. Lookout Mountain
  8. Ever South
  9. Gravity's Gone
  10. Sinkhole
  11. Uncle Frank
  12. Kinky Hypocrite
  13. Guns of Umpqua
  14. Once They Banned Imagine
  15. The Company I Keep
  16. What It Means
  17. Ramon Casiano
  18. Let There Be Rock
  19. Zip City
  20. Shut Up and Get on the Plane
  21. Hell No, I Ain't Happy (with snippet of Prince's Sign “” the Times in the middle)
  22. Rockin' in the Free World (Neil Young cover)