I walked into Thursday night’s Drive-By Truckers show with two things on my mind: “Zip City” and “Let There Be Rock.” I figured that after 15 years of avoiding Las Vegas, the least the hard-touring Southern Rockers could do in their first concert here was play my two favorite songs from their catalog.
Instead, the main set consisted of seven tunes from 2011 disc Go-Go Boots and 10 more from the five albums the band released between 2001 and 2008. And guess what? With each successive number, I yearned less for the two I’d hoped to hear. Tough not to live in the moment with one of the best live acts in existence hoedown-ing up the twangy “My Sweet Annette,” weaving three-guitar magic across new ballad “Mercy Buckets” and bashing, Crazy Horse-style, through showstopper “Hell No, I Ain’t Happy.”
- Drive-By Truckers
- March 3
- The Silverton
“This is our first time playing Las Vegas. What took us so long?” Patterson Hood, one of the group’s two singer/songwriters, queried. “And this is exactly how I pictured it—with antler chandeliers,” responded the other, Mike Cooley, referring to the décor inside the hunting-themed Silverton Casino’s Veil Pavilion. The indoor/outdoor structure proved to be a solid spot for the roughneck outfit’s Vegas debut, more so after a crewman came into the audience early on to tweak the band’s sound on his iPad. From that point forward, all three vocalists’ lyrics were easy to make out, a key for a band as much about its storytelling—at points funny, poignant and heartbreaking—as its hell-raising instrumentation.
The crowd itself should have been far bigger (it filled less than half the room) and way rowdier. And the Truckers, who typically play 25-30 songs, gave us just 22, encore included. But then, that encore included back-to-back versions of, yep, “Let There Be Rock” and “Zip City,” and they were every bit the sing-along, fist-pumping fun I’d dreamt about. Please, fellas, don’t wait till 2026 to come back.