The Drive-By Truckers ascended upon the Ritz in Raleigh with opening acts Erika Wennerstrom and Lucinda Williams. The female supporting artists absolutely thrilled the crowds. The parking lots had been full, despite everyone's usual grumblings about the cost of parking and booze. The crowd was a mixture of young music enthusiasts who mentioned they'd never seen any of the acts before, and older, more seasoned DBT veterans. The common bond was everyone's enthusiasm for the show. EVERYONE was having a great time. I overheard some ladies in the restroom describing some awful interpersonal drama they were going through in the crowd and one of them had suggested they could just leave. Another responded with "Honey, nothing would make me leave THIS show." Preach, sister. A choice well made. I also loved the avid Lucinda Williams fans in the audience who admitted to me that they'd "really just come to see Lucy" but danced their asses off appropriately all night. My opening favorites were Lucinda's "Bone of Contention" and "Honeybee". I don't know if we converted them to DBT or they converted us to Lucy, but all parties concerned were mutually satisfied. The warmed-up crowd was then treated to a version of Drive-By Truckers that rocked as in days of old, and enlightened in the most modern way.
The Truckers launched their night with "Birthday Boy", a favorite of our group. We then went into "Righteous Path", which I'll always sing too loudly, unapologetically. Other familiar favorites of the evening included "Gravity's Gone" (which I'd been humming all day), "Ronnie and Neil", and "A Ghost to Most". After Cooley sang my beloved "Three Dimes Down", Patterson Hood drove the band into "What It Means". Now, if you'd told me at the beginning of the night that this song would be my highlight of the evening, then I'd have been surprised. But the Hoodesque rant/rap/speech in the middle was him at his best. He was witty, hard-edged, educating, and just not bullshitting around. The "punchline" at the end of it all was "LOVE EACH OTHER, MOTHER FUCKERS!" and it took us straight into a raucous jam that was an onramp back into the song. I howled. We all did. It was a glorious moment in time. We wrapped up the night with "Once They Banned Imagine" and an amazing "Let It Rock".
I joyfully sauntered out of that show and virtually sailed home with a few of my friends. We discussed the show afterward. I said that DBT makes it okay to be Southern, but they make it okay to hate racism, too. My roommate, Maddi, said "They're the Liberal Redneck of the music scene." Boom. You can love the South and love to jam and wear black jeans and quote history about Great Grandma's lunatic family from waaaay below the Mason Dixon line, but that doesn't mean that you're not well-educated and vehemently opposed to all the ways we've failed to progress as a country. And sadly, we're watching this nation slip backward a few notches further these days. And Patterson Hood gives us all a voice to say "Hey! What y'all are doing is crazy as hell and we're not gonna sit by and take it!" And yes, we'd use the word "y'all". I, for one, thank Patterson, Cooley, Jay, Matt, and Brad, for giving us all this voice. And making it one hell of a rock show while it speaks. Kudos, y'all. See you at the rock show.
- Erika Rasmussen
- Photos by Jerry Friend