Deer Tick must be one of the hardest working bands around. In the four years since they graced The Media Club’s floor and played a fantastic set to the lucky fifty or so people that turned out that night, they’ve recorded five albums and played masses of shows all over the world.
From their humble days standing on the slight stage of the aforementioned club, the four then relatively shy lads have gone from looking surprised anyone showed up to spraying the audience with beer.
The Rhode Island natives have managed to put out an album a year these last five years and their sound has developed from blissed out, raw alt-country to ‘50s rock’n’roll in the amount of time it takes most bands to release a couple of records.
Deer Tick cannot be accused of shyness anymore. Each time the band passes through Vancouver, they seem to get more drunk and unruly. I mean that in the best way possible.
The band enters the stage to huge cheers from the crowd. Lead singer and songwriter John McCauley enters last and with his clean side-part and wiry eyes, looking like a rock star more than ever before.
Although Deer Tick’s music still continues with the gravelly, stripped down sound that made their first couple of records so enjoyable, their new high energy rock’n’roll creates a real frenzy with the audience.
McCauley leads his band in with “The Rock”, the first song off their new album Negativity, which instantly warms up a very responsive crowd. They move straight onto “Main Street” and pump it with a lot more energy than the recorded version. Deer Tick has a knack for injecting energy into songs when playing live, taking seemingly mellow LP tracks and skilfully turning them into debauched rock’n’roll.
McCauley calms things down with a beautiful performance of “Hey Doll”. The combination of McCauley’s singing and piano-playing, accompanied by Dennis Ryan’s gentle percussion, show the former’s penchant for songwriting and his ability to convey raw emotions without sentimentality.
The rest of the band returns to the stage and prompt the audience’s best response so far with “Ashamed”. The band’s latest release dominates the set list but they do honour their fans by playing the second largest amount of tracks from their debut War Elephant.
The band plays a drastically slowed down version of “Dirty Dishes” and tribute a further track with, “This song is about doing cocaine.” They play off with “Easy” before returning with an encore and blasting out, Buddy Holly’s “Oh, Boy!”
An array of roadies appear on stage and hand out beers to the band. The band members shake up the beers and as they play the opening chords to their final song, “Let’s All Go to the Bar”, the audience is showered with beer. No one on the dance floor escapes the flood; as McCauley and his boys play fast and tight, more and more beer rains down on of each and every audience member. Not a bad way to wrap things up. Cheers!