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LIVE REVIEW: I Was There! Deer Tick Live At Antone’s In Austin, TX

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 category: Features, Reviews Tags: ,

by Ryan Greenblatt

photo: Ryan Greenblatt

For a Sunday night in Austin, it sure as hell felt like a Saturday night. Antone’s was full. The booze was flowing. The bands were loud. For a Sunday night, it sure as hell felt good to be out; not the impending doom that can creep up on you as the weight of the week starts to bear down. For a Sunday night, it sure as hell felt good to be watching Deer Tick– led by lead-singer and principal songwriter, John McCauley– tear it up for close to two full hours.

I had never seen Deer Tick live before Sunday, but I would recommend it. Their eclectic blend of folk, Americana, roots, and F’N ROCK N’ ROLL punctuated with a real tongue-in-cheek attitude made for a great night. From the first downbeat, they had the crowd moving and singing along to every song. The four members upfront wore suit-jackets, but none could match McCauley: pink dinner jacket, wispy mustache, bowtie, and gold tooth. He looked (and sounded) like some lost progeny of Dr. Teeth from the Muppets. For me though, it was his voice that drew me in with its classic undertones: jagged-edged and biting, whiskey-tinted and cigarette-fortified, but also remarkably relatable.

They owned the crowd, and you could tell the band loved every minute of it. Each member had their own microphone, and at times members took turns singing lead in various tunes. The drummer, Dennis Ryan, even had a sampler with crowd noises qued up, including applauses, and, clearly his favorite, crowd-boos– which he used throughout the set during both appropriate and inappropriate times. It didn’t matter though, the crowd ate up watching the band members basically joke around and have a good time. There were moments when it seemed more like a jam session in a garage than a packed venue. They all seemed so relaxed, and the audience responded fittingly by hootin’ and hollerin’ right back at them.

photo: Ryan Greenblatt

At one point the rest of the band vacated the stage and left McCauley alone to play a few songs by himself. During this time, he covered a song by Texas-legend Townes Van Zandt, and even though the energy had purposedly digressed with an intimate setting, the crowd was even more engaged and attentive. I always marvel at certain musicians’ ability to captivate an audience under any circumstance, and McCauley proved he is powerful even alone.

Some of the highlights from the show included the song “Main Street” during which McCauley made reference to the late Levon Helm. After the song, the guys told a story about how they missed out on playing with Helm just before he died, but that he sent them a sweet note hoping to re-schedule when he got better. Not to end the story on a low note, they then shared an anecdote about meeting Levon backstage at the Austin City Limits festival, where he patted drummer Ryan’s large belly and said something to the effect of “God bless you.” Other high-notes were “Friday XIII,” the old favorite “These Old Shoes,” and the closer “Let’s All Go to the Bar,” which got the entire opening band, Turbo Fruits, and some other friends up and stage—a real rowdy closer. For a any night, it was a great show, but I get the sense that every night with Deer Tick feels like a Saturday.

Setlist:

  1. The Bump
  2. Easy
  3. Baltimore Blues No. 1
  4. Mirror World
  5. Main Street
  6. Born at Zero
  7. Walkin’ Out the Door
  8. Ashamed
  9. Clownin’ Around
  10. Funny Word
  11. Twenty Miles
  12. These Old Shoes
  13. Cake And Eggs
  14. Houston, TX
  15. Now It’s Your Turn
  16. Wall
  17. Not So Dense
  18. Motherland
  19. Big God
  20. Miss K.
  21. Dirty Dishes
  22. Lets All Go To The Bar

 

 

 

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