Crash course in the Drive-By Truckers

by Ryan Snyder

The last time the Drive-By Truckers visited Ziggy’s, it was in the midst of pushing Go-Go Boots, an album that added a decisive dash of soul to their catalog of pensive Southern rock. It also happened to be a plodder, and their shows reflected that. Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley will forever own their songs, but it nonetheless felt like a band playing at the pleasure of their label. A little more than a year and a half later, the Truckers had nothing in particular to push other than themselves. Their back-to-back nights at Ziggy’s were as thorough a primer to Southern rock’s best band as any two-night stand they’ve played since the release of Go-Go Boots. They went deep into their 1998 debut Gangstabilly with the lurching “Why Henry Drinks” and “Buttholeville” on Friday and the made a wholehearted paean to Steve McQueen via his titular track on Saturday. In the end, it was five hours of gallows humor, liquor-fueled sociopolitical waylays disguised as songs and terrifying insight into the Southern affliction. It was hard, it was soulful, it was drunken and sobering, all without an agenda.