September 18, 2009

Review: Deer Tick at the Kennedy School

Deer Tick may be the greatest bar band in the world. And one of the best up and coming rock and roll groups. They aren't hip and they aren't of the moment: it's classic whiskey-fueled and sweaty head-banging guitar soul. Led by singer and finger-picking devotee John McCauley, Deer Tick played three high-energy sets of originals and covers, including cuts from the Replacements ("Can't Hardly Wait"), Tom Petty ("Breakdown"), John Mellencamp ("The Authority Song") and Ritchie Valens ("La Bamba").

Mick Jagger once said, "Everything we do is derivative." On Wednesday night, it seemed McCauley couldn't agree more. Wearing a black Thin Lizzy t-shirt, he and his band tore through some of the favorite songs of their youth while delivering their own equally inspired originals. From the anthemic "oohs" of "Ashamed" to the Chuck Berry-inspired "Straight Into A Storm" and an a cappella set-ending version of "Diry Dishes," it's clear that Deer Tick—now assembled as a five piece—are a confident group storming the gates of success.
Whether it was dexterous guitar player Andy Tobiassen slashing through accompaniments and solos; the steady hands of rhythm guitarist Ian O'Neil and bassist Christopher Ryan; or Christopher's burly and bearded half-brother Dennis displaying chops on the drum kit and delicacy on his vocals; the band proved to be a remarkably capable bunch—and McCauley's songs are all the better for it.

Heavily sipping a glass of whiskey, McCauley joked about the popularity of some of his songs, including at one point comparing the listens per month of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" to his own "Song About A Man." But after performing the track, the comparison wasn't so far-fetched. McCauley may not have written his own epic sweeping ballad yet, but the accomplished and young lyricist has time on his side. And with his band of rebel rousers helping him shake things loose along the way—as when Tobiassen kicked McCauley from on top of an amp down into the drum kit during the encore-closing "With A Little Help From My Friends"—it's clear that their journey towards greater success will be one well worth watching—and keeping a close ear to.

Deer Tick - "Ashamed" (from War Elephant)
Deer Tick - "La Bamba" (live Ritchie Valens cover)
Listen to Deer Tick's recorded version of "La Bamba", available as a 7" tour-only single, here.

Deer Tick

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