We spend a lot of time dissecting the point where rock and country meet. Drunk conversations have been had. Thesis statements have been written. Names like Gram Parsons, Mick Jagger, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley have been referenced and cross-referenced.
We don’t talk as often about where folk and metal meet. Because, why would we? That’s crazy, right?
Wrong. The Drive-By Truckers proved last night at their Red Butte show that they are the dead center of that Venn diagram—complete with a shout-out to Salt Lake’s own Kevin Kirk and his Heavy Metal Shop.
At first glance, and with a name like that, an unassuming bystander (of which there are always a few at Red Butte) would probably assume that the Truckers are just good old southern boys with loud instruments (they are. And their instruments are.). But, with lyrics like theirs, there’s no doubt that the band who once recorded a song called “Buttholeville” are now operating on a higher plane.
There’s “What It Means,” a song Patterson Hood wrote in response, and in favor, of #blacklivesmatter.
“If you say it wasn’t racial
When they shot him in his tracks
Well I guess that means that you ain’t black.”
And there’s “Surrender Under Protest,”
“If the victims and aggressors
Just remain each other’s others
And the instigators never fight their own.”
Damn. That’s some Pete Seeger stuff right there—but with some hard rocking tunes behind it.
And it kept coming, all these songs with a social conscious, until the end, when Hood told the crowd, “We have 15 minutes until curfew. So, what I’m not gonna do is walk off the stage and make you do some encore shit. We’re gonna stay here and play some rock and roll.” (ed note: Encores are bullshit. Kudos to Mr. Hood.)
And that they did. A rousing version of “Hell No I Ain’t Happy” and then the highlight of the night—“Let There Be Rock.” It wasn’t a highlight because of Hood’s name dropping of The Zephyr—though that didn’t hurt. It’s a highlight because it’s the truest song Hood’s ever written. It’s his love song to Rock & Roll. And it’s about how he, as an Alabaman never saw Lynard Skynard perform live, but did see, among others, Ozzy Osbourne with Randy Rhoads.
Which brings me back to that metal/folk Venn diagram and the Drive-By Truckers’ place on it—right smack in the middle. Right where they belong.