Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Drive By Truckers, Mississippi Nights, Oct. 25, 2006

I don’t know why I’ve been putting this off – maybe if I write the review, I’ll have to move on, and the show was so great that I don’t want to forget about it.

J and I had taken the afternoon off work and gotten a hotel room in a smaller town on the Illinois side (cheaper!), so we had a leisurely drive and time to check in to the room and relax before time to drive into town for the show. Despite the world series (and the game ended up being cancelled because of rain anyway), we had no hassles – took the easy bridge and were nice and early. The lot we usually park in was pretty empty, and it was drizzley, so we parked where we could see the venue and waited in the car for a few minutes to keep warm. The tour buses were parked right outside. (If you’re early, you can often see band members going in and out the door where you’re lined up at – apparently there’s no convenient back way for the band.) We saw a few people pass, and eventually saw that someone was in line, and I can’t stand to be early and NOT be in line, so we went ahead.

We bought tickets through the Truckers web site that were will-call only, so we went into the little foyer and picked them up. After us, the shutter went down and everyone else had to wait till the doors opened and get their tickets on the way in, I think. Anyway, there weren’t that many people in line, so there was room for us to wait inside – double doors with windows on either side, so we could peer at the stage and watch the staff eat dinner while we waited. J and I tend not to gab much in line because we’re shy and it seems like we always regret joining the conversation – it always turns into some kind of ‘I’m a bigger fan than you’ kind of subtle bragging match. How many times have you seen them, oh, I’ve seen them five. Not that interested. We didn’t talk much there either but the people around us were cool, and (like us) all from out of town.

When the doors opened there still wasn’t a big huge line. Late crowd, I guess? We sauntered straight down to the floor and parked ourselves square in the middle. Awesome Canadian couple (P.J. and Maria) landed next to us. Their first show, and practically our first, because we just saw them last summer opening for Black Crowes.

Opener was The Drams, three fifths of whom used to be Slobberbone. I regretted not checking out Slobberbone before, so this was redemption night, and we’d gotten the Drams album, which I’d listened to across Indiana on my way home from my Ohio Tour. It was pretty good. They were loud (duh, we were stage-side, on top of the monitors and with the amps pointed at us – I don’t mean to imply that the mix was loud, just that we were standing in a loud place) but enjoyable. I’d brought earplugs, but they make me feel strange and kind of disassociated. I think we’ll have to look into getting some more expensive ones out of a musician’s supply catalog and see if they work better; these were just foam cheapies.

After the Drams they moved the center pair of monitors apart so that Patterson (singer/guitarist) was just to our left and Shonna (bass) was a bit to our right. It was a bit too far, though; during the show he moved his stuff (yanking up tape and prompting a roadie to come help) because he was kind of jammed together on the left half of the stage.

I heard the people next to me talking about Beatle Bob: "I bet he gets onstage, he was onstage at the Flaming Lips." I knew it had to be him. I peered around but didn't see him ... but ten minutes later there he was, five people further down on the left, the one and only. Didn't get onstage, but he did have a good time.

Anyway, the Truckers were amazing. We were so close, we grinned the whole time, and they had so much energy and played so well (even though, as I said, we weren’t in the optimal place for sound; that’s the ‘being really close to the stage’ tradeoff). LOUD! So much enthusiasm. Their stage includes a velvet elvis and a velvet Jesus hovering over a semi truck. What’s not to love? Along with a big bottle of Jack Daniels that they share during the show. Especially Patterson. By the end they were all lit and Patterson was holding the bottle for the other band members. There were so many moments, eye contact, smiles, hand touches, practically moshing down there, screaming and singing even though I wasn’t supposed to because I need my lungs to live. I don’t know when I’ve seen J have such a good time, either. It was great. I’m happy when he’s happy. Great set list. Patterson at the end like if Bono were an unpretentious six-foot-fiver from Alabama all drunk and sweaty standing over us singing to the back of the house, with us leaning back away looking straight up at him and hoping he didn’t swing the mike stand and accidentally kill us. I actually ducked away from kicks. During the encore on his knees, yanking the mike cord and us all helping tilt the monitors to free it, screaming, holding the mike out for Canada Maria, and J, and then I, to scream back at him. J said later “Nobody’s ever screamed in my face like that; it was kind of weird.” But awesome. Screaming back at the top of my voice, feeling as sweaty and bold as he was. The kind of crowd interaction that just feeds the band, and the band feeds it back to the crowd, and the crowd gives it back again, and everything gets hotter and louder and drunker and bigger. Here’s a picture J found on flicker featuring the back of my head.

Set list:
1. Marry Me
2. Ronnie & Neil
3. Never Gonna Change
4. Feb. 14
5. Gravity’s Gone
6. Sinkhole (“damned if I wouldn’t go to church on Sunday and look the preacher in the eye”)
7. Goddamn Lonely Love
8. Do It Yourself
9. When the Pin Hits the Shell ("you can't lie to nobody with that cold steel in your face")
10. The Living Bubba
11. Moonlight Mile
12. Steve McQueen (“the baddest motherfucker on the silver screen”)
13. Dead, Drunk and Naked
14. Guitar Man Upstairs (“Think I’m gonna call the po-lice”)
15. The Day John Henry Died
16. Puttin’ People on the Moon (“Goddamned Bush is in the white house”)
17. Space City
18. Hell No, I Ain’t Happy (“but I ain’t too crappy!”)
19. Lookout Mountain
20. Dress Blues
21. Let There Be Rock
22. Shut Up and Get On The Plane
23. Buttholeville (“never going back never going back never going”)
24. People Who Died (“they were my friends, and they fucking died! They fucking died!”)

They don’t make an actual set list (though I was in prime position to get one, if they did), they decide on the fly (although many of their shows do feature many of the same songs, so they have it in mind) without a lot of wasted time in between.

At the end when Patterson introduced Mike Cooley, Cooley just stood there drinking from the bottle and giving the room the finger while we applauded. One of the funniest damned things I’ve ever seen. Awesome.

Afterward, as I said, the venue doesn’t have the greatest floor plan for the band, but it’s great for the audience. The dressing room’s in a corner and its wall on one side and the edge of the stage on the other side make a kind of hallway. They have a security guy sit at the audience end, and if you want to meet the band you hang around there and hope they come out. But you’re so close, if the dressing room door opens you can call to them and see them and hopefully persuade them. That’s what we did, and they came out one at a time, Shonna first, she was so cute and sweet and totally held her own up there with the guys and why ever not? Go Shonna. EZB the drummer, Jason, then a pause. A couple of chicks had squeezed in ahead of us, but it wasn’t a line, it was like a circle. One of them kept telling the band it was her birthday would they PLEASE sign something? J brought the only sharpie anyone had, so birthday chick then would say “And it’s their sharpie so could you please sign for them too???” and we let everyone use the sharpie and it worked out well. Then I saw Patterson come out and I made eye contact and he saw us all and came over. He didn’t look so gigantic when he wasn’t towering over me on a three-foot stage. Hee. Something made him laugh, I forget, oh, J had a liner booklet and I was just having them sign my ticket, and it was so full when I handed it to Patterson that he just kind of looked at it, bemused, and I said, “You could initial it,” and he laughed a little and scrawled at it. Cooley was last and he turned it over to sign on the back because it was so full.

Also here’s the DBT fan message boards.

I think I’m kind of in love. But I don’t know with what, or whom. It was the best show I’d seen in so long, and J and I were just wrung-out exhausted after. After all the autographs and everything we limped back to the car and got to the hotel in minutes.

Next day we went back into the city and had lunch at Duff’s, my favorite restaurant in the whole world, then went window-shopping at a ‘centre’ we hadn’t been to before (high-end! Yikes!) and then came home.

My only regret really is that I didn't take a camera. I wasn't sure of the venue policy and they returned my e-mail too late. But it would've been a big distraction anyway. I was already keeping a set list, singing, moshing, standing, keeping track of our jackets and junk on the stage, breathing, yelling. I could've gotten some good ones, but me taking them with my camera, they wouldn't have been that good anyway. I'm just trying not to think about it so I'm not really pissed that I didn't take it. I said to J, next time I'm on the fence, just tell me to take it. sigh. Could've gotten a picture of me with Patterson!!