Friday Night: Dwight Yoakam At Arena Theatre
Aftermath has never considered Dwight Yoakam a country artist in the general sense of the term, the way most people define country artists. In our mind, he simply rocks too hard to be lumped in with people like George Strait or Alan Jackson. He's more like Social Distortion or Bruce Springsteen - artists who incorporate some twang into their sound, but are firm believers in the gospel of rock and roll.
Yoakam has been what bean counters and genre nitpickers would call a country neotraditionalist, worshiping at the altar of Buck Owens and Elvis Presley, but also giving thanks for the hooks and pop prowess of the likes of Queen, Cheap Trick and The Clash.
But for this guy here, we see no difference between Yoakam's This Time or Hillbilly Deluxe and something like London Calling and Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell. They are all populated by the same jilted losers and playboys.
Friday night, Yoakam laid waste to the Arena Theatre crowd for two hours and nearly 30 songs, barely spending any time on small talk. It was everything Aftermath wanted from our first Yoakam concert, chock-full of hits and covers.
He's also one of the few artists we don't have to scrounge up a set list online as a guide, since we knew most every song within the first ten seconds, even at the venue's ball-busting volumes. We usually hear them at that level in our car most every week, so it wasn't anything we couldn't handle.
Yoakam and his band gave no quarter, revving up the cougars and MILFs in the crowd, who are still brought to their Pilates-toned knees but the man's trademark painted-on jeans and customary cowboy head-cover. The only thing their men in the crowd could do was hold their purses and hope for a physical release of their pent-up, base frustration later in the evening as their dates/significant others went into hysterics every time Dwight swiveled his hips.
Early on Yoakam and his band cracked into the standard Buck Owens cuts, just as he did at his November 2009 Arena gig. Since Owens has died, Yoakam's role in keeping the California country crooner's legacy alive has only grown larger. Each time he covers any Owens compositions, he's really saying a prayer to the man for all of us.
At the halfway mark, Yoakam went into berserker mode, pulling out every fist-pumping ass-shaker in his bag, beginning with "Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose," with the band playing harder and louder than they did at the start of the night.