Tag Archives: Jay Gonzalez


Drive-By Truckers Raise a Passionate, Poignant Racket on Friday Night

February 13th, 2017

Drive-By Truckers – Westbury Theater – February 10, 2017

In their earlier days, Drive-By Truckers were tagged alt-country, Southern rock and even country rock, but let’s call them what they are: no-bullshit rock and roll, anxious and unfiltered, and on their best nights, one of the best live bands of the last two decades. Still more remarkable is that despite major lineup changes, they seem to get better and better, the old songs aging gracefully but with more than a bit of veteran grizzle, and the new songs finding darkness, humor and poignancy in quotidian angst without sounding topical for topical’s sake or shading (too far anyway) into rock-protest sanctimony. Truckers characters are people you know: lived-in, loaded and lumpy. Their problems are your problems. Their shots at redemption are understandable and their failures disappointing.

This mature balance—the ability to be present and unflinchingly direct about news making matters of the age without being thin or pedantic—is so crucial to the current Truckers tour, filled with set lists that focus heavily on last year’s American Band, their most overtly political album. In Westbury, Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and Co. gave us hails of guitar, clattering drums and passionate vocals that came from somewhere deep to frame stories of shootings in Oregon on a beautifully sunny day (“Guns of Umpaqua”), an ill-fated Mexican teenager (“Ramon Casiano”) and the long-lingering ghosts of the Civil War (“Surrender Under Protest”). Some of these songs (“Darkened Flags on the Cusp of Dawn” or “What It Means,” which addresses racism head-on) didn’t require much interpretation. Many were loud, with a sticking finger in your chest, although still others, such as Cooley’s “Once They Banned Imagine,” included acoustic guitars and had the world-weariness of protest-folk without decoupling from the band’s rambling, gnarly rock-ness. And it’s worth noting that politically potent Truckers tunes with a “to hell with this crap” edge aren’t anything new: “Puttin’ People on the Moon,” played fourth, is more than a decade old and its small-town family tragedy has never felt more acute. Same deal with “Sinkhole,” the Truckers’ epic of social class, murder and family values.

As they’ve gotten leaner—the band is now Hood, Cooley, drummer Brad Morgan, multi-instrumentalist Jay Gonzalez and bassist Matt Patton—Drive-By Truckers have gotten meaner, filling more space with paint-peeler guitar solos and working up huge, rambunctious rackets. What’s never quite changed is how they pace a show—peaks and valleys of hard-rocking defiance and melancholy resignation that eventually give way to a runaway train of concert warhorses and an explosive finale. The last 30 minutes on Friday night served up the wry-sad “Buttholeville” with a dovetail into Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper,” along with “Zip City” and “What It Means.” “Love Like This,” Hood’s fist-pumping “Let There Be Rock” (greasy with the saluted nostalgia of the Truckers’ many forebears, from AC/DC to the Replacements) and the anthemic “Shut Up and Get on the Plane.” Hood told us there would be no encore—they haven’t played any on this tour, choosing to barrel through rather than pause, lest any of the loaded tension dissipate too soon—and the Truckers left with “Grand Canyon” and its protracted guitar meltdown. It was ragged and right, as the Truckers always are. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson



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


A Special Night of Southern Rock with Drive-By Truckers on Friday

October 20th, 2014

Drive-By Truckers – Beacon Theatre – October 17, 2014

In all its majestic glory, the Beacon Theatre has a way of making rock shows feel special. As the go-to venue for any local Allman Brothers Band show (and reportedly their final one), this may hold especially true for Southern rock. It was certainly the case on Friday. Following a fantastic opening set from the Alabama soul outfit St. Paul and the Broken Bones, there wasn’t a single butt sitting in one of the venue’s seats. And it was pretty much that way for the next several hours as Drive-By Truckers performed. “Today’s one of those days where your real life exceeds the life you dreamed of,” said Patterson Hood.

Drive-By Truckers are a band that never seems to stop gaining momentum. And if these aren’t the group’s golden years, there still hasn’t been a time when they’ve had more loyal fans. Led by Hood and Mike Cooley, two songwriters who seem to keep getting better, DBT brought out everything you’d expect, leaving no stone unturned: Great songs about Southern tragedies, “Puttin’ People on the Moon” from Hood and “Uncle Frank” from Cooley, to fan favorites like “Women Without Whiskey” to deep cuts like “Runaway Train,” from Cooley and Hood’s first band, Adam’s House Cat.

Of course, there were also the rousing sing-alongs, like the one that accompanied “Hell No, I Ain’t Happy.” Hood added in an epilogue of “I’m fuckin’ happy” at the end, as if to let everyone know that the song wasn’t a real-time account. There were some epic tales of Hood family history leading into “Box of Spiders,” a song about Hood’s great grandmother, who loved going to strangers’ funerals. The night closed with “Grand Canyon,” off their latest album, English Oceans, and then one by one everyone in the band waved goodnight and exited the stage. —Dan Rickershauser


A Double Dose of Southern Rock This Weekend

March 13th, 2013

Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley founded Drive-By Truckers in Athens, Ga., in 1996. Over the years the two musicians—plus nuanced lyrics and plenty of guitar—have been the constant while the lineup around them has changed. An early Internet presence allowed the band to gain new fans before they’d ever seen the Truckers live. But following several years of steadily touring, the group released the double album Southern Rock Opera and things really took off from there. Since gaining wider acclaim the Truckers (above, playing “Let There Be Rock”) have served as the backing band on albums by Bettye LaVette and Booker T. Jones in addition to putting out fine discs of their own, including 2011’s Go-Go Boots (stream it below). But to really experience this band, you need to see them live, which you’ve got two chances to do this weekend when Drive-By Truckers—and Old 97’s—play Capitol Theatre on Friday and The Wellmont Theatre on Saturday.