Reviews

Drive-By Truckers + The Whigs: 23 July 2009 - The Shoals Theatre, Florence, AL

The Drive-By Truckers play their hometown of Florence, Alabama for the first time in five years.

The Whigs

Drive-By Truckers + The Whigs

City: Florence, AL
Venue: The Shoals Theater
Date: 2009-07-23

This was a homecoming of sorts. A little band from Florence, Alabama called Adam's House Cat was poised to make it big having won a best-unsigned band contest from Musician magazine, but it never happened. So they broke up in 1991. They grew up, relocated to Athens, Georgia, kept their central guitar/songwriting team in place and, five years later, and became the Drive-By Truckers. The Athens-based Drive-By Truckers have not played their hometown of Florence, Alabama in over five years. They first played the area back in 2001 (Slinky's in Sheffield) and the following year had their first gigs in Florence. According to the bands official website tonight’s venue, the Shoals Theatre -- a recently restored art-deco theatre from the 1930s -- held extra significance as it was where Patterson Hood saw all the Disney films as a kid and the kernel of the song "Tornadoes" was formed.

Excited they were.

Patterson Hood strode on stage, waved hello to the crowd, and shook a few hands as the rest of the band -- tonight a septet featuring special guest keyboardist and local legend Spooner Oldham -- took their places. Then Mike Cooley kicked into "Where the Devil Don't Stay", a classic show and album opener if there ever were one.

The outline of the evening was clear by the fourth song. An old school biography lesson about Florence and the deep dirty decorated South -- three of the first four songs came from their true masterpiece, 2004's The Dirty South. Patterson revealed himself as a gifted archetypal Southern fabulist with the second and fourth offerings of the evening: "The Boys from Alabama", a kind of inverted murder ballad about Buford Pusser told from the bad guys’ perspective, and a paean to his beloved grandfather, "The Sands of Iwo Jima".

The rest of the main 90-minute set followed this pattern. They played a fair amount of material from the current release, Brighter Than Creation's Dark, but it was clear the crowd came for the older stuff, especially the Decoration Day duo, "Marry Me" and "Hell No, I Ain't Happy", which drew the loudest sing along from the crowd. Also given a rowdy response was the set closing "Let There Be Rock", which Hood prefaced with a long peroration about the "real" CC Chandler who saved his life when he was 16, drunk and drowning in a toilet.

After a short break and some unnecessary crowd baiting by their semi-psycho guitar tech, the band came back and ripped through a 50-minute encore… well almost. Ironically the first two numbers from the latest record -- bass player Shonna Tucker's second effort of the evening "Home Field Advantage" along with "3 Dimes Down" -- were blandly uninspiring. Perhaps it was a strategic decision to pace the "second" set. The momentum and mood changed with the historically and geographically appropriate "Runaway Train" by Adam's House Cat. This was followed by another lengthy peroration by Hood about the difficulty of being a rock band in this area in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, which lead the band into "Buttholeville". The show roared to a close with three tracks from their breakout disc, Southern Rock Opera: "Ronnie and Neil", which provided a history lesson about the "duality of the southern thang"; "Zip City", which was a useful geography lesson for out-of-towners like me; and a noisily tense and moving "Angels and Fuselage" that the band roared through and which included some classic guitar posturing by Hood and Cooley.

The show opened with The Whigs -- fellow Athenians and ATO-labelmates -- playing a smoky 50-minute set. They opened with "Like a Vibration" and focused on mainly new material from their second record, 2008's Mission Control. Unfortunately, the band suffers a bit from Modest Mouse-like blandness. They occasionally sound like the avatars of indie rock rather than the thing itself. Certainly their set could have used a bit more sonic variety and less fog machine. The best part of the set was the closing triumvirate that featured the extended tale of "Already Young" -- their cleverly winning reworking of some musical figures from Status Quo's "Pictures of Matchstick Men" -- followed by the full-on assault of "Right Hand on My Heart" and "Need You Need You". Clearly a band that bears watching as their sound develops and matures further.

9

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
8

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image