Deer Tick House of Blues (Bronze Peacock Room) October 13, 2010
What makes a Deer Tick? Equal parts The Band, Nirvana, Ritchie Valens, Duane Eddy and a heap of firewater. It's hard to describe Deer Tick to people who haven't heard them, but those are the best terms we can come up with.
There are about 12 dozen bands out there right now trying to make the sound that Deer Tick, and specifically singer-guitarist John McCauley, makes nightly. We saw about six of those type of bands at ACL this past weekend and no one comes close. It's boy's, er, man's life, come to hazy, sweet existence on record.
The band always seem to play like it's their last show, in a room that just so happens to be on fire. No show we have ever seen has felt phoned-in or mundane. Which is a good thing, seeing that Aftermath spends more time in concert venues than we do our own beds. We might as well put amps in the corner next to the television so we can sleep easier.
Deer Tick is currently touring behind this year's The Black Dirt Sessions, and Tuesday night the band culled most of their 17-song set from Dirt for their late-night set at House of Blues' Bronze Peacock Room.
Dirt is the band's third and strongest LP, and most advanced, showing off new instrumentation, gruffer lyrics and a hint of remorse where there was none before.
"Choir Of Angels" showcases McCauley's voice, with its nice whiskey-patina coat, but it's when the band gets ever so high on that chorus it gets almost unbearably engaging. For "Ashamed," off of 2008's War Elephant, he walked into the crowd sans guitar to croon for the folks up front. Why we thought of Neil Diamond at that moment we will never know. It's a compliment for sure.
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"Easy" was a screamer, with McCauley and the band howling the refrain "No, you don't know how easy it is," until even the preps in the crowd who didn't know the words were chanting along. You can always judge how good a song really is by the amount of people you see inching towards the merch booth to either buy a shirt or a band's entire catalog.
The band turned "Mange" into a five-minute jam session, making wicked reverb and industrial-sounding squall, before returning to the stage for a cover of Nirvana's "Serve The Servants" from In Utero. A guy behind in the crowd asked if it was "Heart-Shaped Box", but nowhere in the lyrics does it mention a heart or a box...
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Personal Bias: Too many to mention. The band's song "Houston, TX" is a good start as to why we dig them so much.
The Crowd: Pretty and well-scrubbed for a show that wouldn't end up letting out until 30 minutes before last call.
Overheard in the Crowd: "My favorite band at ACL this year was Switchfoot."
Random Notebook Dump: "I am the boy your mother wanted you to meet," is probably one of the saddest lines ever.