Lucero Fitzgerald's February 23, 2011
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About 12:30 a.m. this morning - we know because we wrote it down - Lucero front man Ben Nichols had a question.
"Is there any more whiskey left backstage?"
That he had to ask at all ought to tell you all there is to know about Wednesday's show. It was one of those nights that no doubt took several years off the lives of everyone in attendance, a sold-out throng of beards, pearl-snap shirts and heartbreakers in spaghetti-strap sundresses and cowboy boots.
Our head hurts.
For a solid hour and a half, the Memphis band soaked the audience in 80-proof Southern rock and steroid soul, shards of broken lives and missed opportunities seen through the prism of an empty bottle. Or maybe that's just us.
Loud and proud, Lucero put a heavy Neil Young crunch into their gnarled nuggets of Americana that are as much philosophies as song titles - "Kiss the Bottle," "Sweet Lil' Thang," "Nights Like These." Along with the Drive-By Truckers, Nichols and his burly crew have done yeoman's work in helping Southern rock step out of the long shadow of Lynyrd Skynyrd while remaining as politically incorrect as ever.
But where the Truckers always have one eye on the William Faulkner world of Dixie-lit journals like The Oxford American, Lucero is hot-rod rags and crusted-over truck-stop fuck books, with three-day-old axle grease under whatever fingernails haven't been bitten to the quick.
Songs that wrestle with the bonds of family and addiction among the great unwashed will never be sexy, never show up on Glee, never do anything but keep procreating, building up like plaque deposits around your heart until they evenutally kill you.
We'll take that chance. Gladly.
Personal Bias: Obviously, we cannot stand Southern rock or anyone who can. Christ.
The Crowd: Marinated.
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Overheard In the Crowd Seen On a T-Shirt: "Life Is Short... Do It On a Buzz"
Random Notebook Dump: Long, long into the evening, someone backstage floated the idea of a Festval Express-type tour with Lucero, Robert Ellis, Buxton and a few other rootsy types. It's a great idea that would never work, because no one would want to be the designated driver.