Sadness is the defining element of Southern rock in 2014. Checking in on its leading modern purveyors in one of their main clubhouses reveals a melancholy running deeper than the double-deep cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon that liquidate the room. Theirs is a blues without the form, which sometimes seems to be all that’s left of the aging blues. This is palpable, consistent emotion driven through late rock conventions. The bluesmen say they’re glad or proud about their affliction. While the Southern rock folks don’t despair, they are resolved: this is the situation, and the stories must be told. Listen for yourself.
That Saturday was my first visit to Athens’ famous 40 Watt Club, the third night of Drive-By Truckers’ “Homecoming” stand at the downtown venue. I saw the Truckers for the first time last summer, in Atlanta, and I was struck then by the degree to which a) they weren’t what I expected and b) their performance reoriented me to what they were doing. By the end of their short festival set I understood why people like them so much, and I jumped at the chance to hear them again last month in Athens when Magalan suggested the idea. Continue reading