I think if Deer Tick were on NBC’s “The Voice” they would win, and the win would come without any mention of frontman John McCauley’s jacked up grill (hell, Cee Lo might even hook John up with some extra platinum caps he boxed up in his attic). Those raspy-laced pipes could rival Celtic singers, aging divas, old English women and any other kind of vocal force you put next to him (including the vocals of both his drummer and the other guys in the band that he allowed to each sing a song. “Ouch, glad that’s over,” is all I could say after they finished singing their respective tunes).
When you watch and listen to this guy you go out of your way to say things like “damn, that fool sings like a champ.” I realized all these things and more when last week I was able to see them at the newly renovated historic Yost Theater. I heard that the guy from the defunct Koos Café, an old house venue that had punk and hardcore bands for many moons, is actually the gears behind the opening of the venue, thus giving me hope for more righteous bands coming through Orange County.
The vibe at the show was goodness: the entire band seemed relaxed, but not a smug and cocky hipster relaxed — that sort of “relaxed” just stresses me out and makes me even more judgmental than I already am. Seriously, this was a bonafide relaxed and comfortable. Like a set of seasoned pros they whipped through their set, slowing it down, speeding it up, pulling out saxophones, fingers dancin’ on the ivories, doing a Nirvana cover, doing a posh slowed down and minimal version of their jam “Ashamed” (see the video below), the kind of performance that gives you goosebumps, but then again maybe you had to be there and feel it in your bones like I did. More than once during the show, Deer Tick rocked my ass off in a Cheap Trick sort of way.
Despite being bummed on bands these days, I always know Deer Tick is there and awesome, but this show proved they’re just like the band that you put a five-star rating on when they come up on your iTunes shuffle but would never really take the relationship further. That said, I have resolved to make a cassette of Deer Tick jams and bring it with me next time I’m sitting on the beach wishing my belly wasn’t so fat, but being happy knowing that my grill isn’t as screwed as McCauley’s.