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Drive-By Truckers @ Turner Hall Ballroom

Oct. 22, 2011

Oct. 24, 2011
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Drive-By Truckers' songs speak to hope and turmoil, figuratively traveling the back roads from the band's native South through the rest of the country. Saturday night that road led to the Turner Hall Ballroom, where the Athens, Ga., rock 'n' roll veterans demonstrated what a force they are live. Playing before a backdrop of two stained-glass windows, the show felt like a good ol' country revival in the best of senses (the backdrop was particularly fitting for their song "Late for Church").

Band members quickly made themselves and the crowd at home, storming into a 20-plus song set of sweaty, fiery tunes as the crowd danced and partied. While the group is much more than just a Southern rock or country band, they proudly wore those influences on their sleeve, playing with raw intensity with seemingly endless vigor and swagger coming from everyone in the band. Some songs were meant as anthems for slamming a beer, while others went down sweet like good whiskey. Some just told the cold, hard truth.

The band's use of multiple singers lent to the night's energy. Assisting lead singer Patterson Hood, guitarist Mike Cooley and relative newcomer Shonna Tucker used their vocals to help shake things up into a diverse song catalog. The band played to that strength during the show, digging up songs from their 1998 debut Gangstabilly (including the favorite "Steve McQueen") through this year's Go-Go Boots.

The band began with a rousing version of "The Fourth Night of My Drinking" with Hood on lead vocals, followed by an equally impressive version of Cooley's "3 Dimes Down." With each song, as the two traded off vocals (Tucker also added a song or two of her own, including "Dancin' Ricky"), one couldn't help but be impressed. Guitars were steadily revving crisply over the Turner Hall speakers and the band didn't seem at all worn out by their constant touring. There were stories of time ("Ronnie and Neil"), place ("Santa Fe") and many relationships ("Everybody Needs Love," "Mercy Buckets").

The band wasn't in any hurry to get off the stage, either. Their encore stretched for six songs, including "Used to Be a Cop," "Birthday Boy" and the granddaddy of anthems, "Let There Be Rock."

Photo by Erik Ljung


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