(This is the first of a series from guest writers from around the world talking about Athens bands and how they experience them)
GUEST AUTHOR TOM LAMERS
The Drive-By Truckers, August 12th in Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
It’s always hard reviewing a band you know little about. I had never seen the Drive-By Truckers before and only knew (most of) the songs off Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. I saw on their website that they play over 300 days a year and I think that Tuesday in Paradiso did not show that.
The Cave Singers opened the evening and set a record for 100% beard-presence. Not a particularly outstanding band, but no one expected that. Owning the stage for half an hour, they did what they had to do: come out and play some nice tunes to make sure the nice people in The Netherlands know who they are: a three-piece with guitar and drums and a different third instrument on almost every song.
Then it was time for the band everyone had bought their tickets for: the Athens-based Drive-By Truckers. After brief fiddling with the instruments by the roadies it was time for the curtain to open and reveal a tiny headlight (actually flashlight) to guide the way for the six (touring) members of the band. Three guitars, bass, drums and keyboards make a lot of noise.
From where I was standing the sound wasn’t very good (I heard it was better a little further away from the stage), but I’ll not chalk that up to the band. However, I do think the Truckers could have been better hosts. They rocked through the set with enormous pace, with little time to breathe, and seemingly uninspired, and almost as if there was no crowd. Personally, I think the set could have benefited from some slower songs in favor of another clear-cut rocker, and maybe lose one of the three guitars at times. The only time they took time to entertain the people was when someone could step away from the microphone to demonstrate how to execute a guitar solo. It has to be said: the Truckers are skilled musicians, but whether it was weed, or homesickness: they didn’t really appear to be ‘into it’ in the main set. Although this goes two ways: I have to say the audience was very tame. A roadie even had to cheer us on during the encore break.
Taking that into account, it’s not what I expected from a band that has that much experience.
Obviously, there were highlights. To me, the amount of familiar songs (and thus from their latest record was big. I don’t have a complete set list, but it was good to hear a lot of familiar songs. The triple-punch combo of 3 Dimes Down, That Man I Shot and Self-Destructive Zones was a definite highlight. Also, the encore was great. It was almost as if they were just getting into it at the encore. Hood gave up his guitar to someone else so he could move around while singing, resulting in a faked faint in the middle of the stage.
All in all, I would give the show 7/10. A two-hour show with the climax in the encore can’t leave me unsatisfied.
The concert will be available for free viewing soon (according to the website) at www.fabchannel.com.
Excellent review, Tom. I enjoy the part about the encore, and how the peak performance seems to hit during that time.>>Encores have become passe, and are really glorified restroom breaks nowadays. Band plays a long time. Band leaves. Crowd goes wild. Band returns and plays 4-5 more songs.>>I think the audience should play a trick on the band for a gag… just remain silent after the main set…
I remember reading an interview with Ken Stringfellow or Jon Auer, about touring with Big Star, and they were talking about a show in Japan where the crowd was going nuts after their show… they asked Alex Chilton if they should go back out and encore…. to which he replied, “Fuck ’em. Elvis never encored.” And he turned and left the venue. Pure rock and roll and one of the reasons I love Chilton.
Little heads up: the concert is now watchable