If there's a venue worse than The Beacon Theatre in this city then I don't wanna know about it! It wasn't just that the place was gaudy as hell or that the staff were about as rude as could be (I nearly got kicked out for stepping only a foot out of our designated little press area), but the theater as a whole just isn't conducive for good listenin'. Ya wanna good concert then you gotta have a few things, foremost bein' a good sound system and a place for people to dance (also, a bar with an affordable selection wouldn't hurt. $8
for a bottle of Budweiser is a robbery; $10
for a shot of watered-down well whiskey is just mean spirited). When you're squeezing people down into felt-backed chairs and running the band through a sound-system that squeaks and squeals more than it ever could roar then how the devil can you expect you're gonna have a good show even when you bring in talent? Sheesh, people!
See, it's not just that I'm the kinda hick what likes to get up and get to boogie-in' when the spirit moves me: I wasn't planning on doing a whole lotta jivin' when I decided I'd give the Drive-By Truckers
, a band near-and-dear to a near-and-dear friend o' mine, a shot. I'd given their albums a few listens, liked the soulful and dirty kinda country roll they were layin' down, but knew that it wasn't gonna get me out of my seat. But I am the kind of hick who likes to feel he's not all that separate from the performers, like maybe they just might, if the spirit so moves them, climb down into the pit and maybe start dancing with us, a possibility that just wasn't gonna happen at a place like The Beacon, no sir, where the musicians are on display: you can look but sure as hell don't you touch ('less you wanna taste the concrete. Seriously, whatta staff).
The Beacon is the kinda place, which absolutely neutered the Truckers. They may have been a thousand miles away and stuck behind glass for how immediate their sound was and for how engaged with everything they were. They didn't sound bad: they hardly sounded like anything at all. The audience seemed to enjoy it just fine, alright, but then I don't think they were payin' awhole bunch of attention in the first place. Their focus was on each other: everyone was turned to their neighbor and just squawking and a'talkin like we were all just at home, now, and that the Truckers, well, they were just the back-up band to the night's events.
Which, knocking off the Southernisms here for a second, was frankly an insult to the band and everyone there. Certain types of music might demand a bit of distance and silent appreciation but The Drive-By Truckers aren't in that style at all. Certainly they can play, sometimes even prefer, the somber and morose but they're just as capable of kicking out a boozy brawler and aren't above (below?) the occasional rock number. They're not an art project, they're a band of virile good ole' boys who strike a very keen, down-to-earth chord in their listeners if they strike them at all but they can hardly strike anything when they're relegated to the status of backdrop. That might be what the Beacon is selling -- they seem the kind of business that traffics in symbols and status over experience -- and that might be what the goons are buying, but it's disingenuous to squander this kind of talent.