Photo by Danny Clinch from F22
If you've been keeping score at home, you know how much we feel the Drive-By Truckers. In fact we'd probably be willing to see them play ukuleles on a YMCA squash court with our heads wrapped in cotton. That said, when we heard they were playing a 40 minute opening set for the Black Crowes last week, as opposed to their usual three hour club headlining marathons, it wasn't the hardest sell.
The Truckers took the stage at 6:30 when the sun was just considering setting and Los Angeles' Greek Theatre was basically empty. Though the Truckers still gave it their all, under these constraints it was a bit like watching them run lay-up drills rather than try to make the SportsCenter highlight reel. Next up was Robert Randolph, the reason why the Drive By Truckers had to go on so early and the reason we drank more beer than we'd planned on. To give you an idea of how uninspired this performance was, Randolph brought out his "good friend," American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, to play the harmonica on one song. Then he finished off with "Voodoo Chile" on slide guitar. Vomit.
The Black Crowes were a regular presence on our bedroom boombox during our formative years, but we'd kind of lost track of them aside from those shows they did awhile ago with Jimmy Page. Their set was heavy on mellow, melted rainbow jams like "Sometimes Salvation" and "Sister Luck," which was just what we needed to get through the night. We were totally ready for a reclamation of the band, but then there were moments when we could hardly believe what we were watching. Halfway through "Soul Singing" the entire band exited the stage, except drummer Steve Gorman, who proceeded to play a solo long enough for a piss, a cigarette and a call to your baby's mom. Did that really happen? Does that still happen?