Reviews > Shows
Deer Tick at the Port City Music Hall
Photo by Shane McCauley
Port City Music Hall
Deer Tick stormed into Portland for a one-off gig at Port City Music Hall, where the Rhode Island rockers treated fans to a tight and extremely enthusiastic – albeit brief – set of diverse tunes both old and new.
Moments after taking the stage, recently shorn Deer Tick founder John McCauley informed the lively Wednesday night crowd that the band had finished recording their new album yesterday. “We’ve got 28 songs,” he added, scratching his head for comedic effect. But the new songs they played were certainly no joke. Show opener “The Bump,” a fantastically catchy barroom stomp with a thick, dirty guitar riff that would be at home on a John Lee Hooker album was arguably the highlight of the set. And “Main Street,” which followed, featured McCauley’s gravelly vocals fluttering gracefully above the Ryan brothers’ (Christopher, bass & Dennis, drums) groovy doo-wop backbeat.
From there the band steered into more familiar territory. Brief guitar feedback gave way to the opening rumble of “Easy,” the thrashing chorus of which provided both the band and the crowd their first real opportunity to let loose. “Twenty Miles” showcased McCauley in near perfect form, nailing his multi-faceted vocals and guitar lead while the band stayed deep in the pocket behind him. He then ditched his guitar and belted out a schmaltzy version of “shamed,” during which he also manned the keys momentarily while keyboardist Rob Crowell switched to saxophone and delivered a prime solo. Crowell and Ian O’Neil both shined brightly on “Little White Lies,” accenting the chorus with peppy ska flourishes.
Mid-set found Ian O’Neil taking the reins for “It’s Your Turn,” a ballad-y waltz wherein he adopted a pleasantly meandering vocal delivery. Later in the set, O’Neil led the band in assaulting the audience with three chords of punk fury in the form of the anthemic, Ramones-esque “Let’s All Go To The Bar.” In between new songs from O’Neil, opening act front man Joe Fletcher joined Deer Tick for a loose but spirited take on John Mellencamp’s “Authority Song,” replete with put-your-back-against-mine-and-let’s-share-the-mic rock star preening. McCauley slowed things down late in the set with a gorgeous solo rendition of “Diamond Rings 2007” shortly before the quintet closed out the evening with “Mange,” whose fabulous swirling guitar and keyboard outro was reminiscent of Beggar’s Banquet era Stones.
Despite prolonged pleas from nearly all those in attendance, there would be no encores. Deer Tick’s tardy arrival combined with the venue’s quizzical decision to schedule a separate admission late night event forced the group from the stage after just over an hour, but in a textbook case of quality trumping quantity, the faithful ultimately left fulfilled.
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