Drive-By Truckers / Dan Michaelson And The Coastguards

Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds on Wed 11th May 2011

After watching a couple of You Tube videos I decided to check out Southern American band Drive-By Truckers and their blend of alternative country rock. The mixture of driving anthems and softer guitar laden tracks does indeed conjure up images of truck stops in American deserts, dusty roads and late night driving.

Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards

First up though is Dan Michaelson And The Coastguards. We expect a few folk on stage but the rest of the band have not turned up, leaving Dan and one other guy to fill half an hour. This would be fine, but the music they play is very sad and slow; as if it was Droopy the Dog's favourite music to play before a night out. Dan's very deep vocals provide a bass baritone hum that constantly reminds me of Brad Roberts from the Crash Test Dummies, except their music was a little more upbeat!

At one point an audience member shouts "Cheer up!", to which Dan smiles. Unfortunately the pace of this music is not doing anything for me (especially on this first full week back at work after the many recent short weeks), and although the slide guitar and music show real talent all the songs start to blend into one. The smoke machine behind them is making more noise than them until it is switched off halfway through.

Dan and his mate though do get a nice round of applause from the room that has steadily filled up, and although I feel a little sorry for him, I really could not get into the music. Maybe the odd more upbeat track or at least a random change of tempo would have kept myself and a few others more interested.

Luckily the Drive-By Truckers are here with a bit more lively music to throw at us. Straight in with 'I Do Believe' and its vocal harmonies the crowd are quite excited for tonight. As previously mentioned I have no prior knowledge of this band but they sure have a following here, mainly middle aged folk to be honest but with a fair few youngsters too. And especially two jolly chaps down front in their own little mosh pit throughoutÂ…

Drive-By Truckers

The winding guitars and electronic organ remind me of a hybrid of Bruce Springsteen and Counting Crows, and when Patterson Hood (what a name!) speaks the lyrics rather than sings during the track 'Let There Be Rock' I can hear The Hold Steady's Craig Finn trying to sneak into form a trio.

Songs like 'One Of These Days' show their connection to driving the long and open road is more than just a name, with words close to home about Alabama and father's building tyres "that make the asphalt sing". I don't know who came up with this term to describe alt-country bands like the Meat Puppets and Beck but 'Cow Punk' is a great way to describe this music (or 'Truck Punk', but that gives me the impression of a lot of metal instruments, and this is nowhere near a brass band).

Whiskey is another love down there in Southern America, and 'Women Without Whiskey' with its lyrics "Whiskey is hard to beat / You know the bottle ain't to blame and I ain't trying to" the fact is further cemented when Hood leaves off the guitar duties for a while and passes around the bottle of whiskey between the band. Apparently a signature move during their shows... Sweet.

'Birthday Boy' is a crowd pleaser, and the turn of vocal duties for 'Dancing Ricky' to bassist Shonna Tucker is cute, but her delicate vocals can barely be heard over the scream of blues guitars. Hood and fellow songwriter Mike Cooley swap vocal duties throughout the show, but Hood is just slightly more the front man, although all three guitarists come and shine at the front of the stage a few times during the set. And by 'eck it is a set, running at nearly 2 hours long, another staple part of their shows (which can sometimes run on for longer). There's very little banter between songs, they shoot out the songs before I can distinguish most of them.

The new album 'Go-Go Boots' features heavily on the set list, with 'Everybody Needs Love' and others filling in, but the old songs like 'Hell No I Ain't Happy' are what the crowd are loving tonight. And finishing the very loud set with a cover of Jim Carroll's 'People Who Died' is a real punk moment, with Hood sweating all over the place, and the nice part is that they let a guitar tech play the guitar throughout the song. 15 minutes of fame indeed; every night of the tour. Let me just say that next time around I will learn some of the songs and be able to enjoy it more, but from a new fan this band are amazing live, and do actually make you feel like you are in the deep South. Now pass us that whiskey over!

Drive-By Truckers

article by: Danielle Millea

photos by: Danielle Millea

published: 12/05/2011 17:34


sorry, we currently have no gigs listed for this act.