I’ve been hard on the Drive-By Truckers the past few years here on ninebullets, I know. Truth is, I’ve been even harder on them in my own mind, so when they posted Florida tour dates that made it to Tampa for only the second time since Isbell left the band, my excitement was about that of an eight year old with Brussels sprouts on his dinner plate. Ultimately, I decided I was gonna miss the show here in Tampa in favor of attending a local band’s show and figured that would be that. But, as fate would have it, the band’s publicist reached out to me the day of the Tampa show and next thing I knew the wife and I were gonna be driving to Orlando the next night for the DBT show at the House of Blues.

Now, it bears mentioning that I still wasn’t bouncing-off-the-walls excited to go to the show, I had just agreed to go see it. The wife and I had also agreed that if it sucked we were leaving immediately. The last two times I’d seen the Truckers (once with Isbell and once without), the band seemed less than interested in the show, bordering on distracted. I wasn’t the only one who noticed, either. I chalked it up to fatigue, band tensions or a product of getting bigger and playing bigger venues, but ultimately it didn’t matter. The only thing that did matter was that they disappointed me, so a few years and a couple of albums that fell below the band’s high water mark pass later, and I find myself walking into the House of Blues to see what the band is like these days. To put it bluntly, I was not expecting to be blown away, amazed or rocked. I only hoped to be entertained.

I was entertained. I was rocked. And, hell, I was blown away.

The band was as good as I’ve seen them in years. Patterson’s smile was back. Cooley looked like he wanted to be there. As a whole, it was like the band had their moxie back and the setlist seemed to suggest the same thing. The first ½ of the show was dominated by tracks from Southern Rock Opera and spiced with choice selections from Patterson & Cooley’s contributions from Decoration Day and The Dirty South. The latter ½ of the show saw the pace mellow a little, as the band began introducing songs from the upcoming Go-Go Boots to the crowd, but it never let up enough to bore you as Cooley managed to squeeze “Birthday Boy” and “Ghost To Most” in there, with Patterson dropping “Tornadoes” into the last portion of the show. In the end, my only complaint about the show would have to have been the crowd. Orlando shows usually make me jealous of the Orlando scene, but the House of Blues crowd was lethargic to the point of being a deterrent to a good time (luckily Mr. Jimmy Beam kept the good times on tap).

So if the band is hitting your neck of the woods in the coming months, go check them out. They seem to be enjoying the road again and are putting on a great rock show right now.

Drive-By Truckers – Zip City (live)
Drive-By Truckers – Marry Me (live)
Drive-By Truckers – A Ghost To Most (live)

Songs taken from Live From Austin, Texas


  1. Glad to see you felt they were back on point. I had decided to pass on this tour (mostly do to scheduling) but then they announced a show at the Troubador in Los Angeles (a pretty small venue) so I went ahead and got tickets. Hopefully they are still feeling it when I see them in March

  2. I saw the Sat. night show of the homecoming weekend last week at the 40 watt and like you said they were “on it”. They played about three hours and the night was dominated by Cooley which was nice to see. They are a great live band but they have to rely on old material. I hope the new album suprises me but Unfortunatly I’m not expectin too much.

  3. Yeah I’ve seen them live on the last few tours in Portland 3 times, The gorge, spokane, seattle and San Fran. I have never been disapointed. With or without Jason its my favorite band to see live. I will admit the concert tour after Jason left and after the Dirt underneath tour was the least energetic but they were going through some tough stuff then. Gov’t Mule and Pearl Jam are the only act’s I’d say rival them live…can’t choose which one is better. They’re all amazing.

  4. Don’t hate me because I’m a genius but I am envisioning a future where DBT has had a terrible break up and Cooley has joined with Isbell and they tour as DBT Revisited playing only the songs they wrote.

  5. Might have to go and check out one of the upcoming Denver shows. I was less then impressed the last time I saw them.

  6. Glad to see you’ve come back around! I have had Go-Go Boots on repeat for the past week and I feel the same way as you about their recorded material being ‘below the band’s high water mark’, but I’ve seen them as many times without Isbell as I did with him (a total of 10 or more) and I have only been disappointed once and that was on the dual-headliner with The Hold Steady at the Fillmore in San Francisco. I really thought they were done after Isbell left, but Brighter Than Creation’s Dark has some genius moments on it and last year’s Rock Shows I caught in Boulder and Ft. Collins were amazing. Looking forward to back-to-back DBT shows in Denver in March!

  7. Had the pleasure of seeing them on the UK tour in November, they were spot on that night playing a mix of the old and new stuff, new album is going to polarise fans for sure.

  8. I was less than impressed when I saw them at the HoB in Boston last year. They played 90% stuff off the (then) new album. When I saw them two years previous at the Belly Up in Solana Beach, I was blown way. It’s nice to hear they’re back in the groove.

  9. I haven’t seen them in the last few years, but from what i saw previously DBT owns the rock show… and while some of their newer releases have a few more mellow moments I think all of them shine even brighter than creation’s dark (sorry, couldn’t resist)… and Brandon – can i suggest you see Lucero live so you can add a band to the top of your LIVE list….

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