Aftermath: Drive-By Truckers' Cathartic, Down-Home Halloween Redemption at House of Blues

Categories: Live Shots
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Photos by Jay Lee

It took Aftermath most of Friday to figure out why we were in such an awful blue funk after Thursday's Pogues show, especially after the band delivered a more brilliant set than even this 20-year fan thought they were capable of. But after leaving work early and relaxing for a while at home in the fetal position, we knew.

Some shows - particularly ones we've waited more than half a lifetime to see - we'd rather just be a face in the crowd, soaking up the music and the booze like everyone else instead of having to worry about arranging guest lists and photo passes, not to mention not getting so blasted we can't piece together a review the next day.

Well, sometimes the musical gods are as kind as they are crazy, because that's exactly what we got almost exactly 24 hours later in the very same space. Like the Pogues, Aftermath is so familiar with the Drive-By Truckers' catalog all we really need to do is write down the song titles; unlike the Pogues, we have seen nearly every DBT date in Houston or Austin for a solid decade, so at this point seeing them live is like keeping a standing date once or (if we're lucky) twice a year with an old, dear friend.

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Patterson Hood

It didn't hurt that the first song we caught Friday - we were a little late, so we're just going to assume we missed recent Sirius/XM hit single "George Jones Talkin' Cell Phone Blues," the lead track from the Truckers' New West odds-n-sods swan song The Fine Print - was perhaps our favorite Truckers song, 2004's "Carl Perkins' Cadillac." To us, DBT co-frontman Mike Cooley's countrified tribute to late Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, who "never blew enough hot air to need a little gold-plated paperweight," was always more about his band than Phillips or his "Million Dollar Quartet" of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.

The Truckers never blew enough hot air, and we doubt they ever will, that they're ever going to be able to play places much bigger than House of Blues. Judging by the modest turnout - there were probably more people at the Houston Press' Halloween party next door, which spilled over into HOB's equally packed Foundation Room - the next time Houston sees them may be back at Meridian or the scenario we'd much prefer, back-to-back nights at the Continental Club. As long as someone meets the guarantee, Aftermath suspects they don't much care where they play.

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