Cause and effect. Pix by Rob Trucks.
Wednesday March 26
Mercifully, they did not play “Bob.” I get to feeling pretty bad, though, about disparaging the one subpar Drive-By Truckers song, especially after they’ve romped through two hours’ worth of often pretty magnificent ones, raucous triple-guitar Southern rock manifestos with lyrics ten times better than they have to be: “You know the bottle ain’t to blame and I ain’t trying to/The bottle don’t make you do a thing, it just lets you.” That the Truckers passed around and ultimately drained an enormous bottle of Jack Daniels while dispensing this wisdom only made it more poignant.
Patterson Hood is still the ringmaster here, jovial and gregarious, and his “The Man I Shot” is a monster, a surly, tempestuous scuzz-rocker that might actually be the best song ever written about the Iraq War; in any event it’s a fine addition to his catalog of tunes about people feeling bad about having killed other people. (I’d forgotten about the even scuzzier “Sink Hole,” not to mention “Hell No I Ain’t Happy,” fine selections from the deep-cut pool.) But Mike Cooley is the mesmerizing one, looming triumphantly over the lip of the stage as he solos, barking out brilliant zen koans in his jagged Jagger croon about all the things the bottle let him do.
DBT encores are generally three or four songs longer than they need to be (go out on top and stop after Cooley’s “Zip City,” boys), but a shambolic cover of “People Who Died” can’t erase the ludicrous grandeur of “Let There Be Rock,” in which Patterson thanks AC/DC, .38 Special and so forth for having “kept me from blowing my brains out when I was a teenager” and gets 3,000 or so New Yorkers to scream along to a song about going to a Molly Hatchet concert.