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A Top Five Look Back at 2014

December 31st, 2014

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

Top Five Albums
1. The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream
2. Total Control, Typical System
3. Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels 2
4. Coldplay, Ghost Stories
5. Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal —Charles Steinberg

Top Five Memorable Shows
1. Feist, Tarrytown Music Hall, 4/10
When I heard Feist was doing a tiny solo acoustic tour, I forked over ducats for this one. There were bits of stand-up-like banter with the audience as she stripped down the material. But what really made the night was a mini-reunion with former bandmate (and ex) Kevin Drew as they dueted on the Broken Social Scene classic “Lover’s Spit.”
2. (tie) Rhye, Webster Hall, 2/21
This performance was a bit misleading because although singer Milosh and producer Robin Hannibal are the members in Rhye, the latter member doesn’t tour. But Milosh’s ethereal voice really is the heart and soul of the pair, and it shone greatest for the hit “Open.” His deceptively androgynous voice sounds at times like Sade or even Antony Hegarty.
(tie) Max Richter, The Bowery Ballroom, 12/7
When I saw that the German-British composer was playing Bowery, I had to hop to it. As Richter usually plays symphony concert halls, it was an interesting choice to play such a smaller venue. The Ballroom felt like a recital hall with the audience entranced. What can I say: I’m a sucker for artists playing unorthodox venues.
3. Glass Animals, The Bowery Ballroom, 7/7
I was recently reminded of this concert when my yoga instructor played “Gooey” in class. Pretty fitting, right? In addition to infectious dance melodies, frontman Dave Bayley’s gangly limbs flayed erratically that evening, bringing to mind another dude named Thom Yorke. The two lads have great music and dance moves to boot. Coincidence? I think not.
4. Phox, Knitting Factory, 7/22
The buzz swirling around this Wisconsin band post-SXSW had me tuned into their album all spring and into the summer. Frontwoman Monica Martin was definitely a bit tipsy, but that didn’t detract from her lush vocals or onstage camaraderie. (Check out Schuyler Rooth’s review of their Mercury Lounge gig.)
5. (tie) Mr. Little Jeans, Rough Trade NYC, 5/10
Opening for Sohn, Norwegian singer Monica Birkenes, aka Mr. Little Jeans, overshadowed the headliner for me. It’s rare when that happens, but this lady has a knack for übercatchy dance-pop songs that streamed through my head all summer. She mentioned how she often came here as a child and was really craving a good slice of pizza. What’s not to love?
(tie) Alvvays, Rough Trade NYC, 7/28
New York City summers are packed with free outdoor gigs throughout the boroughs, but this in-store performance with Alvvays stood out amongst the rest. Their infectiously happy songs illuminated the dark back room of Rough Trade but had folks departing into the night with an extra bounce in their step. —Sharlene Chiu

Top Five Just a Man and His Guitar Solo Sets (chronological order)
1.
Dustin Wong (opening set), The Bowery Ballroom, 4/21
2. Plankton Wat, Trans Pecos, 5/8
3. Steve Gunn, Mercury Lounge, 5/18
4. Willie Watson, Mercury Lounge, 5/21
5. Leif Vollebekk (opening set) The Bowery Ballroom, 11/21 —A. Stein | @Neddyo

Top Five Memorable Shows
1. Sylvan Esso, Rough Trade NYC, 9/11
Both my favorite album and my most memorable live show of 2014 came from Sylvan Esso. Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn possess unwavering emotive energy, and every single lyric and beat has sunk into my psyche . I saw the duo perform live twice this year, most recently at their headlining show at Rough Trade NYC. The duo’s erudite electronica boosted the audience as they performed the entirety of their self-titled debut album plus and few clever covers.
2. Broods, Mercury Lounge, 3/3
Comprised of New Zealander siblings Caleb and Georgia Nott, Broods blend melodic melancholia with sparkling synths and glitchy beats. After getting wrapped up in their self-titled debut EP, I simply had to see them live. Broods played their first NYC show to an incredibly enthusiastic sold-out crowd at Mercury Lounge.
3. Hozier, The Bowery Ballroom, 5/13
Hozier’s rich voice and ardent lyrics sit front and center in his compositions. When he headlined The Bowery Ballroom back in May, he was flanked by equally talented musicians who created dazzling harmonies with choral echoes and rock hooks. Hozier and his bandmates mesmerized the audience, including me.
4. Dan Croll, The Bowery Ballroom, 4/17
Dan Croll’s brand of pop is highly addictive, and his live show is equally intoxicating. He fuses lilting pop, wonky electronica and tribal beats and tops it all off with clever lyrics and airy vocals.
5. Kishi Bashi, The Bowery Ballroom, 6/4
Kishi Bashi has what so many musicians seek, and that is an astounding live presence. It’s as if this guy belongs onstage. Kishi Bashi played back-to-back sold-out New York City shows this past June and stunned audiences with his whimsical finesse and astute lyrics. This picture and my review prove that Kishi Bashi’s live performance is one big euphoric dream sequence. —Schuyler Rooth | @Schuylerspeak

Top Five Albums
1. Under the Pressure, the War on Drugs
Channeling Dylan and Springsteen beneath Adam Granduciel’s vocals and personal struggles to stunning effect, this Philly six-piece put out, for me, far and away the top album of the year.
2. Benjamin Booker, Benjamin Booker
From the very first listen, Benjamin Booker’s self-titled debut sounds familiar, not like you’d previously heard its influences, but rather you’d actually already heard this album. The music is lived in and alive and a joy to listen to again and again.
3. 77, Nude Beach
Eighteen songs that sound like the love children of late-’70s Tom Petty and Elvis Costello. You’ll smile the whole time you listen to it.
4. Dancin’ with Wolves, Natural Child
Recording for the first time as a five-piece, and moving away from gritty garage rock to
a more full-band bluesy country sound (with a side of boogie), these Nashville boys took a huge step forward.
5. Morning Phase, Beck
Six years removed from his previous offering, Beck’s slow-building emotional relative of Sea Change captures you from the very first note. —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

Top Five Memorable Shows
1. Pearl Jam, I Wireless Center (Moline, Ill.), 10/17
Playing a small (for them) venue (for the first time) on a Friday night in the middle of nowhere, Pearl Jam put on the best show by any band I’ve seen in the past four years. They performed No Code in its entirety and covered Pink Floyd, John Lennon, Van Halen and Neil Young. Frontman Eddie Vedder put it best, comparing the appearance to a blind date: “You get there and she opens the door, and it’s like, she’s hot!”
2. My Morning Jacket, One Big Holiday (Riviera Maya, Mexico), 1/29
I could’ve chosen any of MMJ’s performances from this run, but the last night was the longest show and it particularly stood out thanks to the perfect weather, the we’re-on-vacation-in-the-middle-of-winter party vibe and carefully chosen covers (including Jim James singing, “Something, something, something” in “Rock the Casbah.”)
3. the War on Drugs, The Bowery Ballroom, 3/20
I absolutely loved, loved, loved Under the Pressure and was extremely excited to hear it live. The War on Drugs did not disappoint, plus they even threw in a stellar rendition of “Mind Games” to boot. (As an added bonus, the night began with Drive-By Truckers at Terminal 5 and closed with green sauce and salt-baked goodness at New York Noodletown.
4. Jonathan Wilson, Music Hall of Williamsburg, 2/14
It was a Friday night and Valentine’s Day. But if you were expecting something quiet and romantic, you’d have been way off. Jonathan Wilson and Co. delivered 16 jammed-out (but not self-indulgently) songs over the course of two-and-a-half hours.
5. Deer Tick, Allen Room, 3/6
As part of the American Songbook series, Deer Tick played an incredibly intimate, seated show in front of a wall of windows revealing Columbus Circle below. It was one of those moments that makes you grateful to live in New York City. —R.Z.

 

 

 

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We’ve Got You Covered on New Year’s Eve

December 30th, 2014

The thing about New Year’s Eve is that it’s so easy to get caught up in other people’s expectations of what the night should be. When on the last night of the year you should think about yourself for once and do what you want to do. And if that’s going to see some terrific bands play live music, then good news, we’ve got you covered. PhilRAD (featuring Phil Lesh and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead) at the Capitol Theatre and the Hold Steady at Music Hall of Williamsburg are already sold out—although we’re giving away two tickets to the Hold Steady.

But don’t despair because: Mercury Lounge has local rockers Black Taxi, along with Little Racer and Brothertiger, at the early show, and Mr. Brownstone doing terrific covers of Guns N’ Roses at the late show. Deer Tick close out their six-night 10th-anniversary residency at Brooklyn Bowl doing a fan-selected set with special guest T. Hardy Morris (of Dead Confederate and Diamond Rugs fame). Playing on the big stage at Terminal 5, Erasure—joined by Book of Love and Alex English—finish their two-night run. Reunited after an eight-year hiatus, emo trio Rainer Maria headline The Bowery Ballroom, with Moss Icon and Petal opening. And following opening sets by Mail the Horse and Twain, Spirit Family Reunion will have everyone at Rough Trade NYC clapping and stomping along as we welcome in 2015.

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Deer Tick Don’t Need a Reason to Throw a Party

December 29th, 2014

Deer Tick – Brooklyn Bowl – December 28, 2014

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

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

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The Replacements – Forest Hills Stadium – September 19, 2014

September 22nd, 2014

The Replacements - Forest Hills Stadium - September 19, 2014

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

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Spend the Last Friday of Summer with the Replacements

September 17th, 2014

Bob Stinson (guitar), his brother Tommy Stinson (bass) and Chris Mars (drums) were already in a garage-punk outfit when Paul Westerberg (guitar and vocals) joined the band in 1979. The quartet changed their name to the Replacements since under the previous name, the Impediments, they’d been banned from some local Minneapolis clubs, thanks to rowdy behavior. Initially they were compared to another Twin Cities band, Hüsker Dü. But as the Replacements became increasingly known for their wild (drunken?) live performances— and as their sound drifted from punk to jangly alternative rock, including elements of pop and folk—they made a name for themselves, unquestionably emerging as one of the most influential, trailblazing bands of the ’80s, thanks in large part to their energetic live shows and the seven terrific albums they released between 1981 and 1990: Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash (stream it below), Hootenanny (stream it below), Let It Be (stream it below), Tim (stream it below), Pleased to Meet You (stream it below), Don’t Tell a Soul (stream it below) and All Shook Down (stream it below). But eventually things began to go off the rails. They were banned from Saturday Night Live in 1986, and Bob Stinson left the group later that year (and died in 1995). Mars departed in 1990, and then the Replacements closed up shop in the summer of 1991. And that’s where the story would have ended, except that seemingly out of nowhere, Westerberg and Tommy Stinson, joined by other musicians, played six shows last year. Buoyed by the response, they’ve teamed up with drummer Josh Freese and guitarist Dave Minehan to play several shows this year, including Coachella and Boston Calling. And on the heels of triumphantly playing their first hometown show in 23 years, which Billboard called “an absolutely stellar performance from start to finish,” they Replacements (above, performing “Alex Chilton” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon) are coming to New York City to play Forest Hills Stadium on Friday night with a pair of like-minded, don’t-miss bands, the Hold Steady and Deer Tick. It’s the last Friday of summer, and this is one not to skip.

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All-Star Lineup Celebrates New Dylan-Tribute Album on Monday

March 21st, 2014

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Bob Dylan made a name for himself as perhaps the greatest singer-songwriter of all time during the ’60s and ’70s. But to put it mildly, many think his output in the ’80s, after he’d briefly become a born-again Christian, not only pales in comparison, but it was actually his worst work overall. However the fact of the matter is the iconic ’60s- and ’70s-era Dylan outshines just about any other artist’s work in any other decade. And the truth is his seven albums in the ’80s actually do contain numerous gems. And to that end, ATO Records release the tribute album Bob Dylan in the ’80s: Volume One next Tuesday, filled with bands like Deer Tick, Langhorne Slim, Built to Spill, Blitzen Trapper, Lucius and plenty other talented musicians. And on Monday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, a terrific gathering of musicians—including Langhorne Slim, John McCauley and Ian O’Neil of Deer Tick, Elvis Perkins, Spirit Family Reunion, Dawn Landes, Yellowbirds, Hannah Cohen, members of Tea Leaf Green, plus special guests—play a record-release party.

 

 

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Robert Ellis Plays Against Type at Mercury Lounge

February 19th, 2014

Robert Ellis – Mercury Lounge – February 18, 2014

To look at them take the stage at Mercury Lounge last night, Robert Ellis and his band had all the markings of a good country music band. There was a pedal-steel player there; the tall, thin bass player was dressed all in black except for the white cowboy hat; and Ellis’s guitar strap was embroidered with his name in big blue letters. And, yes, they were pretty darn good playing country-flavored rock and roll, but time and again throughout the show, they played against type and transcended genre altogether.

They opened with “Westbound Train,” Ellis’s voice prominent in the mix before the entire band kicked in. From there, most of the set highlighted songs from Ellis’s new album, The Lights from the Chemical Plant. One thing that became clear is that the material is not very happy. “Good Intentions,” about infidelity, featured angry overlapping guitar solos, a short and snappy argument while the steel guitar sadly moaned. The mix of two guitars and a pedal steel seemed to offer an array of sounds and emotions from which to draw. “Pride” had a jazzy bridge with each guitar adding small, melodic pieces to the overall whole. Ellis proved himself to be proficient at both the singing and the songwriting, one of those rare talents blessed with a distinctive voice and the knack for penning songs to perfectly match it. This was apparent on tunes like “Steady as the Rising Sun” and later his solo take on “The Tour Song”—his vocals like sweet syrup to pour over a stack of pancakes.

Still, throughout the night, Ellis went out of his way to highlight his excellent band, particularly Kelly Doyle on Telecaster, who matched Ellis leading the band through several surprising musical twists. “Only Lies” bounced on a shuffle from drummer Dennis Ryan (from Deer Tick) while Ellis and Doyle showed off some deft guitar playing. The highlight of the night was probably “Houston,” which began as another emotional melody and then flipped into an up-tempo jam, guitars and steel expertly zigging and zagging. The end of the show finally strayed from the new album as the band loosened up even more with “Pitching,” an instrumental written by Doyle that was more jazz rock than anything you’d hear in Nashville, and two covers—a perfect take on Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years” and a high-energy romp on Richard Thompson’s straight-country “Tear Stained Letter”—that displayed the band’s breadth and skill. The show concluded with what Ellis called a traditional bluegrass tune about growing up in the Bible Belt, “Sing Along.” I don’t know what kind of bluegrass Ellis is used to, but his version opened with several minutes of atypical noise jamming before careening into another genre-busting song. Yeah, I guess for Robert Ellis, that’s what passes for traditional. —A. Stein

 

 

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Deer Tick – Webster Hall – November 7, 2013

November 8th, 2013


Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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Dawes Play Terminal 5 with Shovels & Rope Tomorrow Night

June 21st, 2013

Since forming in Southern California four years ago, the guys in Dawes—Taylor Goldsmith (vocals and guitar), Wylie Gelber (bass), Griffin Goldsmith (drums) and Tay Strathairn (keys)—have won over fans across the land with their high-energy live shows and three albums—North Hills, Nothing Is Wrong and this year’s Stories Don’t End (stream it below)—filled with tightly written songs, quality harmonies and some good old-fashioned guitar love. But one of the most interesting things about Dawes (above, doing “If I Wanted Someone” at last year’s Lollapalooza) is the vast array of bands and musicians with whom they’ve been associated. They’ve been compared to the Band, for their lyrics, and Crosby, Stills & Nash, for their harmonies. They’ve crisscrossed the country and teamed up with their musical brothers-in-arms, Deer Tick and Delta Spirit. And in the band’s infancy, they took part in jam sessions at Jonathan Wilson’s house with the likes of Chris Robinson, Benmont Tench and Conor Oberst. But after finding success, Dawes went on to back some of the biggest names in rock royalty, Robbie Robertson, Jackson Browne and John Fogerty. Plus, at the most epic night of music The House List has ever had the privilege to witness, they inspired one of the loudest sing-alongs Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble had seen with their anthemic “When My Time Comes.” But, really, why are we telling you all this? So you don’t miss them with talented indie-folk duo Shovels & Rope tomorrow night at Terminal 5.

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My Morning Jacket Blasts Off

December 28th, 2012

My Morning Jacket – the Capitol Theatre – December 27, 2012


Last night was a bring-your-own-seat-belt kind of affair as My Morning Jacket played a thrill-ride roller coaster, the first of three sold-out shows at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester. Before the main event began, though, Deer Tick treated the crowd to an opening set that felt more like a second headliner. With their keyboardist “on a plane,” the Providence, R.I., band coalesced in quartet form, tight and rocking and totally polished. The set was an open-the-next-beer-before-finishing-the-last kind, constantly propelling through songs like “The Bump” and “Main Street” before exploding with a cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom,” the audience singing along, and finally closing with “Born at Zero.”

With that, the stage was reset and MMJ came out loud, frenetic and intense from the get-go. The superlative light show at the Cap includes lifelike projections on the venue’s walls, which can suggest an alternate reality for those inside. The music dutifully provided an otherworldly soundtrack: When the walls showed a spooky, psychedelic, come-to-life forest, “Outta My System” delved deep into a dark guitar jam and later, the walls literally went to steam as the band chugged through “Steam Engine.” Throughout there were plenty of wonderfully disassociated moments—jams in stretched-out intros or outros or just standing alone as heady instrumental moments between songs. Jacket classics like “The Way That He Sings” and “Off the Record” were glued together with blistering ad hoc guitar riffs, ambient-noise jams and techno-tinged grooves.

The band has promised no repeats for this three-night run, providing some free-form fun in the set list, which was up and down while maintaining a glorious MMJ intensity all the while. Slower songs like the red-lit “Strangulation” seemed to build to heavy hitter at a perfect pace and eventually segued into a mallet-to-the-head “Smokin’ from Shootin’.” A late-set take on Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone” was a highlight. Here, the walls seemed to go to oil slick, shimmering alive with liquid rainbow colors while the band slow-burned a long, groovy space jam to match.

The set peaked more than 100 minutes in with a monster feedback jam that fed into a loop-de-loop “Mahgeetah.” Still, plenty of track remained for Jim James and Co. as they came out and did a mini-set encore that encapsulated the energy of the show with another 40 minutes of music that included a quieter acoustic-guitar section highlighted by a solo version of “Bermuda Highway,” James ensconced in spotlight, his voice carrying the room. As the night came to a close, the walls went spacey, stars flying by at unnatural speeds as MMJ went into an intergalactic “Gideon.” The song built to yet another climax, entire galaxies floating by the audience. There were only a few questions to be answered: Were we returning to terra firma after a cosmic journey or had we finally left the atmosphere? And more important: Was your seat belt still buckled? —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of JC McIlwaine | jcmcilwaine.com

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The Sinclair Is Up and Running

December 21st, 2012

The Sinclair, a 525-person live-music venue in the heart of Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., opened last week with Concrete Blonde. The gem of a room is filled with different levels and balconies, plus state-of-the-art lights and sound system. The Boston Globe says, “It has some of the best sight lines of any local venue, with three balconies of varying heights. Get here early to stake out a spot in the middle platform, which offers a prime spot to stare down the bands.” And the Phoenix calls that same perch: “the best view in a house that has no bad views.”

The Sinclair, however, isn’t just about great shows—although it will have a full calendar, highlighted by Deer Tick’s sold-out New Year’s Eve show. In addition to live music, this venue will house a Michael Schlow–helmed restaurant. “Music is inextricably linked to the dining experience,” says the acclaimed chef. And although the eatery will only have a small menu on show nights until after the New Year, once its fully up and running, concertgoers and foodies alike will want to stop in for anything from small bites and snacks to big plates and full meals. Because if you like food and music, this must be the place.

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An Ass-Kicking Musical Revue

March 7th, 2011

Middle Brother/Dawes/Deer Tick – The Bowery Ballroom – March 6, 2011

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Is March still part of the winter or is it spring? Should we be happy that it’s getting warmer or depressed because it was raining all day? Is Sunday night the end of the weekend or the beginning of the next week? Is Middle Brother a side project, a supergroup or just another band? These were some of the questions hanging in the air at The Bowery Ballroom on a rainy Sunday night in March. The answer to all of them is, of course, “somewhere in between,” which gives the band’s moniker some extra meaning.

Middle Brother, being bits of Dawes, Deer Tick and Delta Spirit, was only part of the story, though. Usually projects like these are meant to get the musicians away from their normal bands for some extracurricular activity. But the gig on Sunday was more of an extra kind of thing with the entirety of Dawes and Deer Tick playing their own full-strength sets as well. These weren’t opening slots, but part of an overall-show arc, with both bands playing in as-good-as-I’ve-seen-’em form. Despite having their bags stolen the night before, Dawes was as alive as ever with their superb polished-for-radio sound. Frontman Taylor Goldsmith extolled the beauty of support and collaboration with fellow musicians, setting the tone for the evening. He then brought out Johnny Corndawg for a mini-set of country-flavored fun. The closing number, “When My Time Comes,” had Corndawg and the Middle Brother cohorts singing along in unified awesomeness.

With their double blasts of guitar and a bottle of Maker’s Mark to pass around onstage, Deer Tick was a raging contrast of raw bar-band rock and roll. Their set included more guest turns and a massive jam with three guitars and eight total musicians as well as a fantastic five-part harmony on “Dirty Dishes.” By the time the quote-unquote headliner took the stage, the crowd had already gotten their money’s worth, but there was plenty more to come. In rock and roll mathematics, the sum of Goldsmith, Deer Tick’s John McCauley and Delta Sprit’s Matt Vasquez is roughly the average of proto-supergroups Crosby, Stills and Nash and Blind Faith: lush harmonies, touching, self-aware songwriting and plenty of build-to-climax raging rock. Rotating in guests from the rest of the night, they hit most of their self-titled debut in fine fashion. There was plenty of joking and back-slapping and free-for-all fun onstage and hooting, hollering and heckling in the crowd. As the clock approached midnight, the band handed out masks with ugly pictures of themselves for those in the audience to hold up—for no reason at all. Was it the weekend or the start of the week? Somewhere in between. —A. Stein

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Five Questions with … John McCauley

March 2nd, 2011


A fantastic musical revue is coming our way this weekend. Middle Brother, comprised of the frontmen of three talented bands—John McCauley (Deer Tick), Matt Vasquez (Delta Spirit) and Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes)—plays Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday and The Bowery Ballroom on Sunday. Each night will packed with great music, featuring sets by Middle Brother (above, doing “Me Me Me”), Deer Tick and Dawes. It’s sure to be a blast, but be aware that Saturday’s show is already sold out and Sunday’s show could, too. So act fast! In the meantime, McCauley was kind enough to answer Five Questions for The House List.

What’s the last band you paid to see live?
Oh man, I haven’t paid for a show in a long time…. Maybe Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons; one of my favorite bands. They’re out of Providence.

What’s the toughest part of playing New York City?
Not being able to smoke indoors.

Where do you like to hang out in NYC? And do you ever feel like you could live here?
I love Red Hook. I did live in New York for a bit, but it wasn’t for me.

What music or song always makes you dance?
“Jump Jive an’ Wail” by the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

Your after-party is at a bar with a great jukebox, and The House List gives you a buck. Which three songs are you playing?
AC/DC’s “T.N.T.,” the Beatles’ “Dig a Pony” and the Replacements’ “I Won’t.” —R. Zizmor

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Deer Tick – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 10, 2010

November 11th, 2010

Deer Tick - Music Hall of Williamsburg - November 10, 2010

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com

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In Case of Emergency: Add Brown Liquor

August 16th, 2010

Deer Tick – Webster Hall – August 13, 2010

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Friday the Thirteenth proved to be a lucky night to be at Webster Hall. The crowd enthusiastically greeted Delta Spirit frontman Matt Vasquez (“I’m not anything without my band”) as he opened with a short set of his own songs plus covers of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Neil Young. Then, playing their last U.S. show before heading overseas next month, Deer Tick was fittingly welcomed to the stage with an air horn. The Providence, R.I., quintet went right into “Choir of Angels,” the opening track from their terrific new album, The Black Dirt Sessions.

The disc is notable for a change in Deer Tick personnel, with guitarist Ian O’Neil, formerly of Titus Andronicus, and keyboardist Rob Crowell joining the band. O’Neil is a big addition with his songwriting (“Hope Is Big”), singing and frenetic guitar playing, clearly evident onstage during “Baltimore Blues No. 1,” which has been reworked with Christopher Ryan’s ’50s-coffehouse-bassline opening. Crowell’s influence was most obvious on an ambling version of “Ashamed,” as he effortlessly shifted from keys to sax mid-song (while ringleader John McCauley slid from crooner mode to keys player) as the crowd throatily sang the chorus.

Of course McCauley, his voice endearingly ragged on “Christ Jesus,” was his usual engaging presence, cracking jokes, singing to girls and sharing his bottle of Jack with the audience—plus he even played a little air horn when just he and drummer Dennis Ryan returned to the stage following the encore break. The other guys eventually joined them on an upbeat “Easy.” And then as people sprayed band-supplied Silly String into the air, it seemed like the show would close with the rambling honky-tonk of “Mange,” but the group responded to the loud crowd and returned with one more, a heartfelt a cappella “Dirty Dishes” before closing out their tour. Look out, Europe: Deer Tick is coming. —R. Zizmor