Friday, November 8, 2013

REVIEW: Old 97s and Drive-By Truckers @ Town Ballroom, 11/3/13

Wow, what a show!  Two similarly-minded acts churning out parched, dusty rock n' roll, each fighting to be the best and loudest band on the Town Ballroom stage, and the audience was the winner!

The 97s, fresh off a year-long jaunt supporting the 15-year anniversary reissue of their masterpiece, "Too Far To Care", were in a loose and playful mood, pulling their setlist from albums across their career.  Rhett Miller, all boyish hip-shaking and guitar-windmilling, sounded stellar and Ken Bethea has gotten incresingly intersting as a guitar player...his near-constant leads and fills skittered around and gave the songs added twang and crunch.  Pingponging between classics from "Too Far" (like an absolutely scorching take on album-closer "Four Leaf Clover") and more recent gems from 2011's sadly overlooked "Grand Theatre" albums, Dallas' favorite sons were tight, fun and delivered a solid 65 minute opening set.  Miller promised that they would be back in the late-spring or early-summer (in support of their upcoming 10th lp), and this fan cannot wait!

The Truckers live experience is one built on pure volume and heat.  Opening with Mike Cooley's "Carl Perkins' Cadillac" was a nice surprise and Cooley and co-leader Patterson Hood absolutely CRUSHED with a set that was heavy on early classics while also debuting two new songs off their forthcoming record.  Longtime fill-in bassist Matt Patton seems to have finally joined the ranks full-time, and while the third guitar is missed (keys player Jay Gonzalez filled in occasionally), Hood and Cooley more than made up for it in the heft of their playing.  A solid set from a band that continues to bring the goods live!

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