Occasional free-lancer Stewart Deere checked out the Drive-By Truckers' show in Memphis this weekend:
From the opening guitar crunch of “Lookout Mountain” to the whiskey drenched encore, the Drive-By Truckers delivered the southern rock goods at Memphis’s New Daisy Theater, and proved themselves worthy heirs to the mantle of
Lynyrd Skynyrd. I’ll go a step further. I believe the Truckers are better than Skynyrd ever was.
Sure Skynyrd’s triple guitar attack on the finale of “Freebird,” is something that still thrills me, but the Truckers’ songs tackle the realities of life in the South with a lyrical depth that Flannery O’Connor could dig. It might even drive her to try to crowd surf. “Try” being the key word since one zealous would be crowd surfer was stopped by a member of the theater’s security.
A song like “Puttin’ People on the Moon” is a brilliant first person account of Alabama poverty and unemployment and a government that seems
more concerned about sending people to the moon a few towns over. Although it is set during the Reagan years, the song’s themes transcend any time
period, as illustrated by Patterson Hood’s substituting “goddamned Reagan” with “goddamned Bush” at this performance.
The Truckers had their fair share of good time rock n roll moments though, despite the somewhat darker subject matter of some of their songs. “Let
There Be Rock” is a crowd pleasing account of being young and dumb and
growing up with rock n roll in your soul. Blue Oyster Cult, Ozzy Osbourne, and yes, Lynyrd Skynyrd are all name dropped.
The band’s encore was the highlight of the show. As they took swigs out of a bottle of Jack, the band played “Outfit” a meloncholly song of southern and family pride that guaranteed a sing along from audiences. They followed that with “Buttholeville,” a greasy and sleazy piece of fist pumping boogie from their first album “Gangstabilly.” They even brought out opening band the Drams (who had just finished their set when we arrived) to play along for the final song of the encore. This put the guitars onstage count up to 5 (beat that Skynyrd) but I sadly didn’t recognize the song and neither did my Drive-By Truckers concert vet friend.
The Truckers put on one of the best concerts you can hope to see at this moment in rock music. Do not pass up a chance to see them.