Deer Tick – Brooklyn Bowl – December 28, 2014
If Deer Tick have proved anything over the past 10 years, it’s that they don’t need an excuse to celebrate: Their shows are always equal parts rock concert and private party. So when there really is a reason to throw a bash, like, say, their 10-year anniversary this month, well, they really go all out. Sunday night found them halfway into a six-night New Year’s run at Brooklyn Bowl, each date featuring special guests and album covers and plenty of surprises. Last night’s first set was Deer Tick’s take on Meet the Beatles, an interesting selection to say the least. Wearing matching custom bowling shirts commemorating the anniversary, they got things moving with spot-on renditions of the opening one-two of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” McCauley’s Providence, R.I., growl provided a Deer Tick warmth to the well-known songs. He joked that he would sing the Lennon parts, Ian O’Neil would sing the McCartney parts, but they had no George Harrison, so they invited the night’s first guest, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, to sing “Don’t Bother Me.” His manic presence on vocals loosened the band a little. Later the Felice Brothers’ James Felice played accordion to the same effect, punctuating a set that was equally fun for the band and packed house alike.
Following a short break, just McCauley and Goldsmith returned to play as “Little Brother,” performing material from the Middle Brother collaboration they were involved in a few years ago. The audience went quiet at once, savoring the special treat while the duet spun a stellar four-song mini-set that included “Daydreaming,” “Thanks for Nothing” and “Million Dollar Bill,” the stage dappled in colored lights adding to the special feeling in the room. By the time Deer Tick proper took the stage to play their own material, it felt like we’d already been treated to a celebration worthy of 10 years, but of course the guys had plenty more in the tank, pulling out rarities like “Hand in My Hand” and crowd-favorite sing-alongs like “Main Street,” which anchored the strongest stretch of the evening.
Just when things felt like they were winding down, Deer Tick brought out the Replacements’ Tommy Stinson to lead a couple of songs, including a barn-burning version of the Who’s “The Kids Are Alright” that had Dennis Ryan impressively going all Keith Moon behind the kit. It didn’t seem possible to top that, but Deer Tick had no problem trying, bringing about a dozen guests onstage, including Stinson, Goldsmith, Felice as well as Robert Ellis and opener Joe Fletcher, all in their own bowling shirts, I might add. They led the crowd in a rousing version of “Goodnight, Irene” that was appropriately epic to end a weeklong celebration. But it really only marked the midway point of the week and, who knows, maybe their career. But one thing’s for sure, Deer Tick are just getting started.
—A. Stein | @Neddyo