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  THE DRIVE BY TRUCKERS w/ The Possibilities  
  Smith's Olde Bar  
  Atlanta, GA  
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I'm angry. I'm pissed off. Why? Does it really bloody well matter? Probably not. But here goes: leaving aside all personal and work related weirdness, thus far in 2002 I've tried to see bands I normally don't encounter. And let me tell you, I haven't been impressed. And it's left me in something of a funk with regards to the Atlanta music scene. So, in order to restore my faith in local music, I decided to wander out and see two of my old favorites: The Drive By Truckers and The Possibilities.

Even before the music started, I knew the evening was fraught with potential difficulties:

  1. the venue -- Smith's Olde Bar -- attracts a crowd that's a little too suburban for my tastes
  2. those afore-mentioned crowds are usually somewhat ill behaved: groping women, stepping on toes, and generally being drunk and obnoxious
  3. the bar doesn't have either draft beer or PBR, two beverages that normally flow like water at the concerts I usually attend.

But, in the quest for good music, certain indignities must be endured.

And I was very pleased when The Possibilities hit the stage and began with a very loud, but solid version of the title track from their forthcoming album, Way Out!. From there, they continued on in the same vein, with the usual loud jangling guitars of Kevin Lane and Chris Grehan being pulled along by the drumming of Matt Lane and the bass of Bob Spires. And above it all, the keyboard playing of Jason Gonzales added a nice touch, connecting The Possibilities' music with the Pet Sounds-era sound that influences the so much.

However, as much as I genuinely like The Possibilities, I have to confess that things got a little sloppy as the set progressed. I suppose some of this was because it was apparent that the band members couldn't hear each other on stage. More importantly, they were playing without a setlist, and the lack of forethought slowed their musical progression down. Similarly, towards the end of their set, the music itself seemed slowed down, as if the band was a little tired and lacked the energy to punch it up as much as they previously had. Still, they managed to pull it all together at the end with a loud rocking cover of The Rolling Stones' Let's Spend The Night Together, reminding me that this is one of the few bands that can cover such classics without sounding stupid.

After The Possibilities left the stage, the crowd packed in more, leaving us with little room to breathe (much less move). On the whole, they seemed a little drunk and unruly (as one might expect at a Drive By Truckers show) and wholly unprepared to deal with the rather substantial delay that occurred after The Truckers set up. But eventually the band took the stage, and the music began. And, if you judged by the people around me, The Truckers played one of their best shows ever. Everyone screamed and sang along with the older favorites; people laughed at the anecdotes the band told. They seemed to listen to the few newer songs; only a couple of people were overtly rude and pushed their way to the front. In short, they were dancing and hooting and spilling beer and having a great time.

But, you see, I've seen The Truckers many times before, and I can tell you this was nothing special. Sure, the band was energetic and the music was solid, but much of the playing seemed like it was being done by rote. It was a concert with a recipe: first, start off with Steve McQueen, then go into Don't Be In Love. Don't forget to add Buttholeville for spice. Shake with a cover, then serve with a nice helping of the Southern Rock Opera. This isn't too surprising, if one considers the band has been touring fairly steadily for a long while. And I have to confess, as I said above, I don't think anyone in the crowd noticed. They were too busy buying into the rock to notice the nuance of performance, and everyone seemed a little sad when the long set came to an end.

Still, even a mediocre concert by The Drive By Truckers is better than most of the tripe I've been seeing recently. Likewise, even though The Possibilities seemed a little off at times, their music made me happier than any of the new bands I've encountered thus far this year. So I might rank this show rather low, but it's against the overall potential of the bands. And I now have a new mantra: avoid Smith's Olde Bar at any cost.

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