Sunday, October 14, 2007

Drive-By Truckers: 10/13/2007, Tipitina's, New Orleans

Here is the whole flickr set

This was their acoustic "The Dirt Underneath" tour, which came off like the best episode of Austin City Limits ever, minus the self-conscious reverence of the Texan music nerd. Instead, there a plague in fraternity form had descended upon the club, desperate to prove their air-guitar and hi-fiving skills and also their comprehensive knowledge of the lyrics. One air guitarist, named Eddie Van Halen, kept bumping into me and singing in my ear every time Cooley sang, but I understand when you are young and its your first big-boy concert, and possibly had too much sugar, you get excited. However, when his air guitar solo got out of hand and I really could not crane around his antics to see, I caught his dopey childlike eyes and said, "Dude. C'mon."

He froze in a rictus of mock riffery, glancing at his hand, then back at me as if I should have either commented of the quality of his performance or seen that his hand that I assumed was twisted to form a B Moron chord was actually the awkward invitation of a handshake. I just stared, and then he made a mime's tear-streak-down-my-face motion, to which I could only turn away.

Later, his date kept staggering her cigarette into the left arm of a large Bike Nite type and he turned and bellowed at the poor drunken thing in a way that made me feel a little sorry for her, even though... This only accelerated Eddie Van Halen's resolve to "party it out", and within minutes, the same Bike Niter had summoned the bouncer to dress him down for assuming the "you wanna start something" stance, humiliated in front of his bros and everything. I felt vindicated. I have been reading Ask the Dust, and thinking Arturo Bandini curses upon this oaf, wishing he'd be stricken impotent and his mother would cry ceaselessly at the end of the family line and the shameful uselessness of little Eddie's weener, and then feeling bad for thinking such thoughts about a guy just trying to have fun at a southern rock concert for fuck's sake. Where did I think I was? But, old man as this sounds, I did not pay $18 and drive an hour and a half to watch a future account manager cavort.

The show was magnificent, with Nashville veteran Spooner Oldham at the keys and John Neff at the pedal steel, young Jason Isbell's absence didn't even register except that none of his songs got aired. Neither did anything off the last album which I thought was strange. Eddie Van Halen and his contingent seemed to have a weird control over the band, spending each break bleating song titles and 4 out of 5 times, they would play them. I was shocked when they belched "Heaaaathhheennns!" in the air, being one of the Truckers' more sensitive numbers and the band responded in kind. For a moment, I understood human power dynamics.

The band was magic, as they always are, but acoustic their songs were allowed room to breath. "Box of Spiders" sounded like it was echoing up from the earth, "Buttholeville" tacked up next to Martin Luther's edicts and "The Night GG Allin Came to Town" proved itself once again, perhaps the most genius song ever written.

The best moments of a DBT show is when Patterson gets to channeling, and this time he launched into a trance-like "State Trooper" by Bruce Springsteen, exposing the beating drunken heart barely contained in that song. A roadie played electric, the band writhed like a gaggle of Hieronymus Bosch monsters and the place went up in smoke - so perfect. And, unlike 107% of all shows I've attended in New Orelans, it ended before 1 AM, allowing me to get my tired-ass home. I thought about braving the crush at the bathroom on the way to the exit, but decided to wait for the Last Chance Motel.

The Last Chance Motel is just a gas station actually, the final outpost of coffee before you hit the Bonne Carre Spillway bridge, and where everyone from Baton Rouge stops on the dark treacherous trek home. Once the night clerk spooked the hell out of me, mouthing "who's your daddy" at me along with The Zombies' "Time of the Season" right at my deafened head as a swarm of actual zombies tried to sell everyone there a stolen watch. I now cherish any opportunity to go there.

I gassed up, started walking to the door when in a cloud of woooooohoooooos, a stretch Hummer limo screeched into the parking lot and what looked like the cast of a little theatre production of Entourage poured out, and kept coming, like circus clowns. At the tail end, strutting with the disgust only a twenty year old white boy of moderate privilege can muster was Eddie Van Halen, momentarily glaring back as he and 300 of his brothers and brothers' consorts proceeded to clog up the store. I pictured him standing in line behind me trying to get my piteous Diet Coke Plus and Met-Rx Bar, rightfully mocking me for making such a stupid purchase, and I decided, Bandini-style, to graciously allow him the day unchallenged, my full bladder and lukewarm half-bottle of water an adequate penance for cursing the poor bastard impotent. I mouthed a silent "see you in hell, motherfucker" as I rounded the hearse at the next pump and slung myself out into the pit of the night.

(Ed. Thanks for the link, drivebytruckers.com!)

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