For those of us not sweltering in the Austin heat among rowdy SXSW crowds: Let's all breathe a sigh of relief and check out a show that goes down easy. Drive By Truckers and Robert Ellis are playing Wednesday at the Belly Up, and it's the perfect show to cure your "wish I were in Austin" woes.
Drive By Truckers are best known for their roaring anthems of Southern country and soul. Their songs are ripe with tales of shooting guns and drinking beer -- in a way that doesn't sound kitsch; more like the glory days of rock & roll. The band's aesthetic is well acquainted with that era because they've been around for so long. Going 15 years strong with eight albums behind them, their loyalty to classic rock & roll plays a big role in their longevity.
What hasn't been said about the legendary Southern rock act? The better question is: Who is Robert Ellis, and what's all this talk about him? Ellis is their 22-year-old opener. He's been receiving quite a bit of hype recently for his record Photographs. There's a gorgeous nostalgic tone wrapped up in his record of soft country-folk tunes. Something wise and aged, in tracks like "Bamboo," which reflects on his childhood and how he has since changed and become a man. He's reserved and understated, with often nothing more than an acoustic guitar -- but it's the vulnerability in his vocals that is transfixing. It's a traditional simplicity that's hard to find these days.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Ellis' music is that his brand of contemplative folk doesn't exactly fit into the indie rock scene, nor can it be placed in the more traditional country scene. It extracts the best of both worlds and makes each genre feel accessible to the other. Indie fans can foster an appreciation for country music because of artists like Ellis, who appeals to both sides. That's certainly the most exciting part about new artists and their ability to reinterpret genres for themselves.
Grab your tickets here.