Last night was filled with it's fair share of assholes and unsung heroes, as so many concerts are. As the crowd filled into the Crystal Ballroom and the lights fell you could feel the energy in the room. We came to be amazed and we would not be disappointed.
Opening the show Robert Ellis and his crew took the stage with all the confidence of a road house band on a Friday night. Tall and lanky as Hank Sr. and with the long hair and beard of Willie Nelson, Ellis looked the part of a country music prodigy. As the sweet twang of his voice spilled out onto the crowd we knew this lone star son had brought his A-game. Bathed in a soft stage light, his sedated western wail had a soulful ache that tapped a pain naturally suited in the swaying two-step of his "What's In it for Me" and the amazing cover of Gorge Jones' "If Drinking Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will)." Clearly astute in sorrowful country tunes it might have been easy for him to propagate his set solely in this style, but once the band and their instruments were warmed up, they proved quickly that they were more than just ballads and heartbreak.
Launching into an playful Honky-tonk funk whose groove heavy pace inspired dancing. Literally in one case: A couple who felt that right in front of the stage was the perfect spot for their crowd jostling country swing. We get it, you loved that short period of swing reemergence back in the 90's but I'm sure that the rest of us would have appreciated that fact more had you done it a little further from the stage. Inconsiderate dancers aside, this was a great set. Truly getting after it, Ellis and his gang put a especially tasty funkiness into the performance of their song " No Fun." A perfect opening act for the Truckers, the gradual build of their set culminated, in an audience truly prepared to receive a thorough rocking.
Once Ellis and his boys cleared out the Truckers road crew stormed the stage like a special forces commando team. I've seen them in action before and am always amazed at the detail and speed by which they prep the stage for the band, especially their guitar tech. Damon Scott. The meticulous way he checks every wire, every connection and places each instrument right where the band wants it, is beyond professional. Whether before the band takes the stage, during the show or breaking down, it's apparent that the Drive-By Truckers has one of the best crews around, they certainly did last night.
From the crowd it was very apparent that we weren't the only one having a great time. The sheer joy rolling off Matt Patton, the tour's stand in bassist, would be impossible to hide. I can only imagine that he was living one of his dreams up on that stage. No exception, this DBT show was awesome, and having seen them now five times I'll say they get better each time I see them. That doesn't mean their isn't going to be that one jackass that's going to get too drunk and through his own stupidity pick a fight with one of the members of the band as their playing. Luckily the security of the Crystal Ballroom is one of the best in town. I would like to commend their speed and efficiency. It's their work that turned an escalating situation into a night everyone could enjoy.
Like usual the Truckers put an an amazing show which only made me anticipate their next pass through Portland even more. Oh and to the girl that elbowed her way to the front only to have her boyfriend dry hump her from behind. Do us all a favor, next time just stay home and put your favorite DBT album on real loud. That way you can both get your cookies.