The Rock Show settled into Oklahoma City’s Tower Theatre for the first time this past Sunday night. For those not familiar with that description, it’s referring to the potent, high energy and unexpected outcome that comes courtesy of the Drive-By Truckers roaring into town. The OKC stop was a rarity, as DBT typically set up shop in Tulsa’s venerable Cain’s Ballroom. In fact, the last time I recall not having to head up the Turner Turnpike to T-Town, was a brief downtown OKC festival set maybe five years ago, give or take. Regardless of the timing or reasoning, It was good to immerse myself in a full fledged Rock Show again.
Billed as “an evening with” this was a straight forward, in your face DBT show. Actually, that’s good and bad. The Truckers have an incredible eye and ear for picking bands to support them over the years. Over more than 15 years of seeing the Athens, GA founded band, I’ve had the fortune of seeing early performances of Lucero, Ryan Bingham, Houndmouth, Heartless Bastards and more. So, I’m always excited to see who they might have with them, but for this short Texas/Oklahoma run, DBT stood solitary (with the exception of Jay Gonzalez opening one of the Gruene Hall shows). With a 25 song powerhouse of a set, the lack of an opening act was negated almost the minute the boys took the stage.
Alternating vocals throughout the evening, co-founders Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley deem a setlist unnecessary. Instead, as they typically do, they play what they want to play based on personal preference, or perhaps on recent events. It’s a fun bonus being close enough to the action to see the reactions as Jay Gonzalez, Matt Patton and Brad Morgan try to determine just what song it’s going to be. Things kicked off with one of my personal favorites of Cooley’s, “Carl Perkin’s Cadillac,” with Hood’s “The Living Bubba” from the band’s 1998 debut, Gangstabilly following. Hood is a masterful storyteller, and it’s always a treat when he adds an introduction or tale. Tonight’s highlight was a moving story of his great uncle, George A., leading into “The Sands of Iwo Jima.”
Over the course of the set, the band covered a lot of ground, with personal highlights for me being the back to back punch of “Gravity’s Gone” and “Sink Hole” as well as Patton’s energetic romp through the Ramone’s “The KKK Took My Baby Away.” Speaking of Patton, the bassist and former Dexateens member, just has to be the happiest guy where ever he goes. The smile never seems to leave his face, and it’s just a great quality to go with his incredible musical contributions. As far as musical contributions, I’d be remiss not to mention the birthday boy of the evening, Jay Gonzalez on guitar and keys as well as the steadfast Brad Morgan holding down the drums.
Overall it was a rambunctious, loose and fun show. It wasn’t the best performance I’ve seen the band do, but as it was the last night of the tour, a little sloppiness can be forgiven, and is actually expected. No doubt the band was ready to get home to their families and the upcoming holidays. Perhaps no one as much as Hood, who introducing “Thoughts and Prayers” a song from their upcoming 2020 album, talked of a close friend directly affected by the recent school shooting in California. If I had any doubts, they were certainly put to rest with the the show closing “Shut Up and Get On the Plane,” “Angels and Fuselage.”
There’s nothing like a Rock Show. Can’t wait for the next one.
Keep up with the Drive-By Truckers, new album information and Athens Homecoming dates