It’s been a long and inspired ride for the Athens Georgia based Drive-By Truckers. Since their debut album Gangstabilly almost 20 years ago, the band has seen numerous band lineup changes and produced multiple critically acclaimed LP’s. Co-founders of Drive-By Truckers Patterson Hood (lead vocals, guitar) and Mike Cooley (lead vocals, guitar, banjo) have been the architects of their longevity by amassing a pool of amazing musical talent that currently includes Matt Patton (bass guitar, backing vocals), Jay Gonzalez (keys, guitar, accordion, backing vocals), and Brad Morgan (drums). The band’s last LP, 2016’s politically charged American Band, takes head on the subjects of gun violence and the current state of U.S. race relations that only a Southern based rock band steeped in that culture and tradition possibly could.
DBT brought that politically charged power and intensity to the Hart Theater located in Albany’s Empire Performance Art Center on Tuesday July 25. This is the eleventh stop on DBT’s Resist Tour and the band was accompanied by opening act The Seratones. Based out Shreveport Louisiana, The Seratones are touring in support of their 2016 rocking release Get Gone. Lead Singer and guitarist AJ Haynes along with band members Connor Davis (guitar), Adam Davis (bass guitar), and Jesse Gabriel (drums) kicked off the show with a high octane version of “Choking On Your Spit.” The high octane, in your face, offering set the tone for their remaining energetic set.
After a short break, it was the Truckers turn to take the stage and they kicked off their set with “Filthy and Fried” off of 2016’s American Band. Vocalist Cooley painted a gritty picture of a modern day landscape that showcases the angst of a 27-year-old woman trying to cope with the struggles of gender identity in everyday life. Next it was Hood’s turn to take the lead on vocals with a stirring rendition of “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife” off of 2008’s Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. It was just a little later in DBT’s set that Cooley realized that the crowd at the Egg were being overly reserved and sitting statically in their seats. He addressed the audience, stating that it was alright if they wanted to keep sitting down. Cooley went on to say that he and the band were more than willing to play slow songs, but if they wanted to rock they should feel free to get up on their feet. The newly energized crowd eagerly left their seats, the majority of which, stayed that way for the remainder of the performance.
DBT kept up their end of the bargain by cranking out down and dirty versions of Truckers fan favorites “Where The Devil Don’t Stay” and “Puttin’ People on the Moon.” Bassist Matt Patton also got a turn at vocals later in the set with a high-powered rendition of the Ramones classic, “The KKK Took My Baby Away.” DBT finished the night with an encore that included American Band’s politically charged “What It Means.” The song lyrically examines the ever-increasing incidents of gun violence in America and references the gun slayings of African Americans Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. The stage lights went down during the performance, with the exception of a brightly lit Black Lives Matter sign that was prominently featured on the side of the band’s piano. Hood ended the anti-gun violence anthem with the impassioned mantra “It ain’t political…It’s personal!”
The Truckers wrapped up their set with a stirring version of “Grand Canyon” off of 2014’s English Oceans. Hood dedicated the song on-stage to “Departed Drive-By Truckers Family,” a reference to longtime merch-man and band ambassador Craig Lieske who passed away in 2013. The Drive-By Truckers will be featured at both the Newport Folk and XPoNential Music Festivals later this month.
Drive-By Truckers: Filthy and Fried, Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife, Ramon Casiano, Baggage, Marry Me, Dead, Drunk and Naked, Guitar Man Upstairs, Darkened Flags on the Cusp of Dawn, Surrender Under Protest, The Company I Keep, A Ghost to Most, The Guns of Umpqua, Where the Devil Don’t Stay, Puttin’ People on the Moon, Shit Shots Count, Ronnie and Neil, Kinky Hypocrite,The KKK Took My Baby Away, Sinkhole, Made Up English Oceans, Let There Be Rock, Zip City, What It Means, Love Like This, Grand Canyon
Seritones: Choking On Your Spit, Sun Kingdom Come, Get Gone, Head-trip, Chandelier, Tide Brainwashed, Take It Easy, Necromancer, Don’t Need It, Trees