Despite my use of earplugs, my ears are still ringing from a great Drive-By Truckers show. I wasn't even going to see them on their trip through town. I had seen them, and I wasn't sure I could afford to go. Saturday night's show sold out, but for whatever reason last night's did not, so when I decided that I could swing it, I went right up and bought a ticket before the doors opened.
I settled into the second row of people in front of the stage and began waiting. It wasn't too long before someone struck up a conversation, having recognized me from last summer's Floydfest. It's funny how that works out sometimes, and we ended up hanging out for the rest of the evening. With the set running to about 12:30, he even gave me a ride home, which was right on his way.
The opening act was Blitzen Trapper, a band I'd been meaning to see for a few years but circumstances had until that point prevented me. They turned in a solid hour-long set that had a surprising number of extended versions and jams. They opened with "Fletcher" and played songs mostly from the last two albums. A couple of classics worked their way in too, "Wild Mountain Nation," "Texaco," and (thankfully) "Black River Killer." On the third take they cranked out a great version of "Street Fighting Son," and they closed with a solid cover of "Good Times, Bad Times."
As for the main course, it was my third DBTs show, and easily my best. It's funny how memories come back, but only once they started playing did I remember that I didn't especially enjoy the previous two shows. The first one was shortly after Shonna Tucker had left the band, and while the replacement bassist was competent, the band didn't sound tight -- it was still adjusting to the change. The second time was at Floydfest 2012, and I wasn't able to get into the performance. That's not to say it was the band's fault -- I was on the side in bleachers late in the afternoon of a sunny day, my then 5- and 2-year olds were hot, bored, and tired, and due to their presence I was cringing every time Patterson Hood cussed (a frequent occurrence). Having had those experiences, I guess it was no wonder that I hadn't been as eager to see them this time as I should have been.
The set had a lot of the new album, "English Oceans," and was bookended by two of its tracks, "Made Up English Oceans" and "Grand Canyon." In between was a whole host of classics, including "Tornadoes," "Carl Perkins' Cadillac," "Let There Be Rock," and a cover of Warren Zevon's "Play It All Night Long." I chuckled at what I considered to be more than coincidence when the first track from the new album, "Shit Shot Counts," was followed by "Buttholeville." The band was rocking and raucous, and played a near 3-hour set that lasted into the next morning, briefly taking time out just past midnight for the audience to sing Happy Birthday to Patterson Hood, a welcome to his 50s. While we were singing, I just kept thinking how odd it was for him to be giving us such a wonderful present when it was his birthday.