Deer Tick Ends Tour at The Bowery Ballroom

July 27th, 2009

Deer Tick – The Bowery Ballroom – July 24, 2009

Deer Tick

Deer Tick

Deer Tick had been on the road steadily since early June—including more than 20 dates with Dawes—before closing their tour in rowdy style at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom on Friday night. Playing tracks from their debut album, War Elephant, and their follow-up disc, Born on Flag Day, released about a month ago, Deer Tick began the show with a brief drums interlude and then firmly took hold of the audience with two hours of gritty, sweaty rock and roll.

Drummer Dennis Ryan, whose tour beard compared favorably to the Geico Caveman’s, his bassist brother, Chris, and guitarist Andy Tobiassen are talented musicians, but Deer Tick’s heart and soul is clearly John McCauley’s raspy, evocative voice. The frontman was chatty and affable throughout. (And possibly drunk. Although he’s not a haphazard drinker: He kept his beers cool in a koozie all night.) Before going into “Baltimore Blues No. 1,” McCauley said, “I wrote these fucking songs in my bedroom when I was 17 or 18 years old. And there were never this many people there. But if there were, we would’ve had a great time.” Those in the audience happily agreed as they stomped, clapped and sang along to songs like “These Old Shoes” and “Little White Lies,” plus a terrific cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Breakdown.”

As the show—and tour—wound down, members of both opening bands, Dawes and These United States, who had been singing along from the side of the stage, joined Deer Tick onstage. The mood was loud and rambunctious, like rolling thunder, as they drank, hugged, danced and took turns trading solos on a ripping version of “La Bamba.” Many young bands’ live performances sound remarkably similar to their recorded work, but Deer Tick’s live show breathed new life into their already-heady stuff, turning earnest music into something dirtier (in a good way). Like the recorded takes were just the beginning, a blueprint to build on. Hopefully they will. They’re off to an awfully good start. —R. Zizmor