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Deer Tick's set Sunday night at Warehouse Live, opening for the lovely and photo-shy Neko Case, was the perfect capper to a weekend that saw us become sleep-challenged conspiracy hounds and road-weary travelers all within the span of a day. Too bad that the band didn't let us get a sip of the Jack Daniels bottle that they twisted open onstage seconds before they began the first song. The band opened with "Dirty Dishes" from 2007's War Elephant, a mellow and sly start to a set that ended being anything but. Lead singer John McCauley's voice is even grittier live and the whiskey coating his vocal chords seemed to remove any bit of smoothness. Deer Tick is the band that early Kings of Leon fans wish that band would have stayed, with the same galloping drums and inebriated regret without all that newfangled arena jazz that overtook their sound.
"La La La" from the upcoming More Fuel For The Fire EP is a quick two-minute Exile On Main Street jaunt, and live it comes complete with a wider scope and rougher guitar. McCauley chatted with the crowd, becoming bitterly hilarious while introducing "Houston, TX" and waxing poetic on the local girl that inspired the song with a healthy and proud "fuck that bitch" that got the crowd laughing. It's required listening for anyone down in the romance gutter here and anywhere else. Younger bands that come through town always manage to pull out a Lightnin' Hopkins cover or two, and Deer Tick rattled out "Shotgun Blues" like professional blues residents. It's curious that so few local bands do Hopkins covers and that it takes out-of-towners to shed light at on our hometown hero. Just last month Justin Townes Earle pulled out our native landmark's "Bad Gasoline" for his set opening up for the Pogues. McCauley and crew closed with the new "Something To Brag About" from their forthcoming full-length that should see release around March or so, in time for SXSW or not long after. It's a chugging and rumbling Chuck Berry-style riffer that goes well with McCauley's Gene Vincent growl, and it makes us feen for the new album already.