Drive-By Truckers Turn Up All the Way at Music Hall of Williamsburg

March 7th, 2016

Drive-By Truckers – Music Hall of Williamsburg – March 6, 2016

(Drive-By Truckers play Music Hall of Williamsburg again tonight and there are very few tickets remaining.)

Seems hard to believe that Drive-By Truckers have been doing their thing for 20 years now, and it’s even harder to believe that they’ve been able to maintain the same high level of rocking over that period. Judging by their limit-testing, sold-out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg last night, there is really only one level that they can operate at, and that is turned up all the way. They took the stage shortly after 9, facing the audience, arms raised, triumphant for the musical victories of the last two decades and the one they were about to declare over the amped full house. The Truckers opened the set with “Tornadoes,” off their The Dirty South album from 2004, lead singer Patterson Hood’s distinctive Southern voice already competing with everyone in the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs.

While the backdrop behind the band was the cover art for their 2014 release, English Oceans, the set list covered an even distribution of their vast catalog. “Sink Hole” was an early highlight, showing off the Truckers’ ability to mix layered storytelling with three-guitar Southern-rock rage, both the lyrics and the jamming more complicated than they might appear at first. Hood’s voice is perfect for spinning yarns, and he took several opportunities to go off on tangents, whether it be talking about sneaking out to see Bruce Springsteen when he was a kid or remotely yelling at his mother (and maybe, by extension, the rest of the country), “Mama, if you’re listening on the Internet right now … if you vote for Donald Trump, you’re going to a fucking nursing home!” New songs off an upcoming album fit right in with the old material, “Ever South” was particularly strong with an extragroovy kick from the bass and electric piano.

By the set’s closeout section, the guitars were turned up all the way and the crowd was good and rowdy. Drive-By Truckers rewarded their energy with a sprawling six-song encore that added an extra 30 minutes to the performance. And “Let There Be Rock” seemed to encapsulate the room’s mood, a song for those who would rock out for more than two hours on a Sunday night without worry about the Monday to come, almost everyone in the audience pumping their fist as they sang along with Hood. The band finished with “Angels and Fuselage,” which built to one last droning jam before each band member left, one at a time, triumphant once again, another victorious night in a long career filled with them. —A. Stein | @Neddyo