The two men with guitars appeared wearing dresses: black, baggy thrift store gems like your friend’s mom discarded when she lost all that weight, hanging off tattooed shoulders and belted at the waist like priests’ robes. The bassist, stage left, was adorned with a little kids’ winter hat – the kind that are shaped like animals (in this case, a lion). And, for their opening number at Monday night’s concert at Flatbread Co., they repeatedly barked an order at the audience: “Let’s all go to the bar!”
But don’t let any of this fool you – Deer Tick is a still up-and-coming band that, from a musical standpoint at least, begs to be taken seriously. They are successful in the same way a professional sports team becomes successful: they have a deep bench. In last night’s show, would-be frontman John McCauley often dished out the chore of lead vocals to guitarist Ian O’Neil or drummer Dennis Ryan. Both did a fine job. Even bassist Christopher Dale Ryan, usually content to hide under his lion costume, was nailing effusive solos by night’s end.
The selection of songs was somewhat of a Deer Tick anthology: from early tracks like “Art Isn’t Real” and “These Old Shoes,” to poppier singles like “Main Street.” There was even one new tune, likely to be featured on Deer Tick’s new album Negativity (Ian O’Neil cryptically told the audience “that song doesn’t officially exist”).
The crowd absorbed each number with enthusiasm, proving that the waters of Deer Tick’s fan base run deep…even without all those goofy outfits and drinking songs. Those are just part of the show.