Drive-By Truckers pulled into Baltimore recently to rattle the rust off the walls at Rams Head Live on the second date of a tour that was only wishful thinking just a year ago.
Other than a handful of limited capacity solo performances by Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley — and some virtual / online performances by Hood and Cooley affectionately named “The Dimmer Twins” — this was the first full live tour since before the pandemic. On Aug. 27, Hood, Cooley, and rest of the band — Brad Morgan on drums, Jay Gonzalez on keys and guitar, and Matt Patton on bass — walked onto the stage to the sounds of the Rolling Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?,” a nod to the recently departed Charlie Watts.
And as an acknowledgement of the last year and a half, Hood stated, “I’m so fucking glad to be here” as the Drive-By Truckers started into “Filthy and Fried” and a count-in — “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR” — of “The Righteous Path” from band and crowd in unison. Hood sang “I got an itch that needs scratching but it feels alright / I got the need to blow it out in Baltimore tonight!”
Friday night was pure rock ‘n roll and those in attendance — all masked and vaxed — were in for a ride as Drive-By Truckers proceeded to perform for over two hours and giving us a taste of what we’ve been missing the lately.
Drive-By Truckers have never been shy to shine light on social and, to a degree political, topics — from racism to classism and what it means to strive to be just a decent person in an increasingly indecent world. In 2020 alone, the band released two entire full-length LPs: The Unraveling (largely about the disillusionment of what America has become… or maybe, really, what we keep failing to come to terms with) and The New OK.
And that bite was plenty present with the debut Friday night of the title track to The New OK with the unforgettable lines: “It’s 11:29 and the shit comes down / Shooting violence from behind the fence / Smashing the medics and the once free press / It gets bloody, and then gets messed / Goons with guns coming out to play.”
Watch the official music video for “The New OK” by Drive-By Truckers on YouTube:
One of the many strengths of Drive-By Truckers has always been the driving guitars, and this is most apparent in the way Mike and Patterson trade off leads but in the way Jay Gonzalez tears it up on songs like “Ronnie and Neil.” Seriously, it all boils down to a love of music and the way Matt, Brad, Jay, Mike, and Patterson play off each other and the crowd, which was all-in for this trip.
Reaching the end of the evening, the band played a great cover of “The KKK Took My Baby Away” by The Ramones and ended with the great “Grand Canyon.”
Drive-By Truckers continue their tour through the US. Definitely check them out near you here.
The setlist included:
Filthy and Fried
The Righteous Path
Women Without Whiskey
Used To Be A Cop
Slow Ride Argument
Three Dimes Down
Play It All Night Long (Warren Zevon)
Surrender Under Protest
The New OK
Shit Shots Count
Pin Hits The Shell
Do It Yourself
Made Up English Oceans
Rosemary With A Bible and a Gun
Ronnie and Neil
Love Like This
The Company I Keep
Let There Be Rock
The KKK Took My Baby Away (The Ramones)
Here are some more photos of Drive-By Truckers performing at Rams Head Live Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.