The Henry Clay People
The Henry Clay People took the stage with confidence and ease, and while the beginning of their set struck me the same way their album Somewhere on the Golden Coast struck me – decent but same-y – things picked up with a song dedicated to the Drive-By Truckers (“This Ain’t a Scene”, I believe) and only got better from there. Joey Siara helped endear the band to the crowd by soliciting requests for cover songs… though the crowd was possibly stuck in a time-warp as Siara’s guidance to suggest a band from the ’70s was met with a shout for Guided By Voices. After a creditable rendering of “Game of Pricks”, Jay Gonzalez was brought on stage to join the band for a stop-start go at “Space Oddity” that included audience participation in the form of countdowns and hand-claps.
After a couple more stand-up originals, the band finished out their set with a cover of “Born to Run” that made the now slightly time-worn classic vital again.
The Drive-By Truckers, too, started their set a little low-key (though not quietly – it was the Drive-By Truckers, after all) and more toward the twangy side of their country-edged rock. I couldn’t help think of Tim Quine’s post on Rubber City Review suggesting that the best soundtrack for Akron was honky tonk and of the pig roasts of my youth which were often accompanied by a bar band of some stripe. Though those pig roasts would have been a hell of a lot more exciting if DBT had provided the entertainment.
After a few songs, the band picked up steam and brought out a string of their rockers, sounding almost like a heavy metal band with their low guitar riffs and Patterson Hood’s impassioned howls. It was impossible not to headbang along. It’s on these songs that the dynamic between the band’s de facto double-lead, Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, is best appreciated. Cooley strikes cooler-than-cool guitar god poses (with the chops to back it up) while Hood bounces around and looks like he’s having the time of his life.
They kept the pace up throughout the rest of the show, which was a smart move in light of the mood of the audience. The only real break in the pace came with the lovely “The Flying Wallendas” which received a great reception from the crowd thanks to the line about “the fine folks of Akron” (sang as “the good people of Akron” this night).
I try to keep my opinions about audiences to myself, but this audience was something else. While the crowd gave it up good for their favorite songs throughout the night, it was the laziest audience I’ve ever experienced when it came to calling out for an encore. There were long lulls between half-hearted cheers and anemic chants of “D B T”. People mostly stood around as if they were waiting to be served. If I were the Truckers, I wouldn’t have come back, but the Truckers are better people than me, and they came back for a hell of an encore. DBT seem to be able to create their own energy and were in a fine, fine groove. Hood was apparently so excited that he played them into a second go at “Lookout Mountain”. Not that anyone was complaining, especially as it rocked even harder the second time around.