A look at Wednesday's Drive By Truckers & J-Roddy Walston show
Baltimore's nightlife scene is too big for me to cover every corner. Fortunately, my legion of spies has my back. Josh Fink was at Bourbon Street Wednesday night for the free Drive By Truckers and J-Roddy Walston and the Business show sponsored by Jim Beam. Here is his report:
I feared that this new venue my feel hollow, too big, and lacking character, but it was actually a great time. Two separate aspects particularly piqued my interest during the night: a) The venue, and b) The actual show.
The Venue: Not that the place is officially a new force to be reckoned with, but overall, it surpassed my expectations.
I'd been to the general Bourbon Street facility only once before (Ben Lee a few weeks back), but that show was limited to "The Quarter" section, which is only 1/3 of the total square footage.
For this show however, they had the whole building opened up, which gave us the opportunity to explore the large "Ballroom" venue side, the second floor which has a huge square bar in the middle, a dance floor, and then the railing viewing area to peer down onto the Ballroom stage (somewhat similar to Rams Head, 9:30, 8x10).
There's also a pool table on the front side of the 2nd floor, which seemed out of place considering the venue only holds concerts and heavy dancing/club nights ...
Continuing our exploration, we moved up to the rooftop deck. It's huge, with many areas covered, private VIP cozy areas/lounges, and again a square bar in the middle offering $8 frozen drinks (seems pricey).
I was pretty impressed with the actual facility. For the most part, by its sheer usable space, above average bathrooms for a club (no attendant!), wealth of bars, and bits of the warehouse feel maintained.
On the downside (these are a bit nitpicky), the acoustics are bit awkward due to the brick walls, the steps were all quite slippery and badly needed some of those sandpaper strips, there were very few beers on tap (if any), and a lack of access to the rooftop except while the club is in full effect. Also the roof leaked, causing a few inches of flooding in some (non-show interrupting) areas.
I’m not sure this place will become the Clarendon Ballroom it would love to be, but it’s got a good shot at continuing to build the "Under the JFX" music scene in that area.
And now, the music: The Drive By Truckers (DBT) continue to impress in their live shows. I’m not huge fan -- I only celebrate about 2 albums of the collection. However, they put out some great raw energy, Southern rock/twang style. Add a bunch of bourbon and free entry to that formula and you’ve got yourself a good time.
I honestly think DBT should just contract with Jim Beam to be sponsored all the time. Guitarist Mike Cooley was drank straight from the bottle on stage, puffed on his performer’s cigarette, and let loose a few face-melting solos. One lackluster part of the music was the completely inaudible bassist. "Chick" bassists are hot and she appeared talented, but the instrument was almost completely muted.
Not to be overlooked, the opener J-Roddy & the Business put on a pretty lively show themselves.
The highlight was the bass player (pictured, bottom right) who clearly knew every lyric as he head banged through the show. If it weren't for his singing, I’d assume he was recently plucked out of the crowd at the recent Metal Fest in town. Love this guy!
I can honestly say it was one of the best frees show I’ve been to, probably ever. Artscape has had it’s great moments, but I'm very partial to indoor venues (with the exception of massive festivals like Virgin Mobile, Bonaroo, etc).
J-Roddy played for at least 45 min, then DBT played for close to two hours I think, closing with Jim Carroll’s "People Who Died." They also brought up local badass Rodney Henry of Dangerously Delicious Pies and the Glenmont Popes fame to play some guitar. I think only a small portion of the crowd recognized who he was, but it gave it that extra kick every show needs.
(Top photo from Getty Images. Bottom photo courtesy of J-Roddy Walston and the Business.)