PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Deer Tick + Guards: 14 November 2011 - Chicago

Attending a Deer Tick show comes with an unspoken disclaimer: the closer you are to the stage, the more likely you are to get spit on, sprayed with beer, or better yet both.


Deer Tick + Guards

City: Chicago
Venue: Reggie's Rock Club
Date: 2011-11-14

Attending a Deer Tick show comes with an unspoken disclaimer: the closer you are to the stage, the more likely you are to get spit on, sprayed with beer, or better yet both. The band has a reputation for being a brotherhood of rock 'n' roll drunkards with a taste for sonic debauchery. True "Tickheads" (aka Deer Tick fanatics) do not let the elements of beer and spit get in the way; in fact they join in on the fluid exchange. I learned this when the band graced Chicago with their presence Monday November 14 at Reggie's Rock Club. Natives of Providence, Rhode Island, Deer Tick were on tour in support of their fourth studio release Divine Providence, out now on Partisan Records. Supporting their all ages, sold-out Chicago venture was Chicagoan Paleo and avant-pop rockers Guards.

Deer Tick were proceeded by the illusive Guards who created intricate variations of pop music. The band wove together everything from psychedelic sways with hints of plastic soul, to clap along pop-rock and omnichord experimentation. Mid-set Guards leader Richie Follin stated: "Since we are all at a Deer Tick show we must be drunk, on drugs, or full of youthful exuberance." Though the night was still young, mixed cries varying in levels of intoxication cheered in support of Follin's astute observation. Eventually Guards cleared the stage to make way for Deer Tick.

During set break I witnessed a pack of under-aged kids get kicked out for drinking beer, fans fight for spots on the rail, a girl heckle roadies to pass her beers from onstage, and overheard two girls plotting ways to get noticed by, or meet, the band. (I ended up next to the two girls for a majority of the show. While they failed to catch the musician's attention, they succeeded in checking their iPhones every thirty seconds.) While there was prime people watching in the audience, I was more than ready for Deer Tick to hit stage.

Deer Tick staggered onstage shortly after 10:00 PM. All five members sported suits of varying shades, some more formal than others. They looked like a discount wedding band who pre-gamed in the parking lot. Lead singer/guitarist John McCauley was armed with a palette of 24 Budweiser tall boys, one cracked and raised to cheers the audience. Fellow band mates carried the remnants of personal six packs and settled behind their instruments. Deer Tick hit the ground running paying homage to Chicago post-grunge legends Local H. They charged head first into the hit "Bound for the Floor", made it to the bridge then stampeded into their original song "The Bump".

"The Bump" had beers splashing and heads thrashing in no time thanks to its animalistic, call and response nature. Fans were charged with testosterone as they repeated every line McCauley bellowed into the mic. For the next two hours Deer Tick pretty much shuffled up Divine Providence and played the album in its entirety. Added to the mix were gems from the back catalog, including a brief solo interlude with McCauley and several choice covers.

Deer Tick are typically pegged as an indie-folk rock outfit, but after hearing and seeing them live I could not disagree more. The truth is Deer Tick are everything one could ask for in a rock 'n' roll band: they are loud, raw and sweaty with an unquenchable thirst for cheap beer. Their music challenges audience intuition making individuals want to simultaneously head bang, scream, twist and shout. Before you are out of breath they may lay you down gently by grabbing your heart with romantic lyrics of the human experience.

This exact scenario occurred halfway through the set when the band cleared the stage leaving McCauley alone with his tall boy and guitar. He spent the next 15 minutes performing darker toned numbers, including the soulful grunge ballad "Christ Jesus". McCauley's unique vocals came from his gut and rang coarse with a residue of booze, smoke and bar shows. His unpolished chops emulated everything from emotional turning points "Christ Jesus" and "Chevy Express", to covers of Jim Croce and Nirvana, to the boogie woogie tunings of "Something to Brag About".

Additional performance highlights included McCauley and guitarist Ian O'Neil sharing a kiss during "Funny Word", and McCauley stripping and fondling during "Ashamed". (There was no indecent exposure unless you count a female fan tossing her panties onstage preceding "Ashamed".) Drummer Dennis Ryan took lead vocals on his softer note "Clownin Around", which he introduced as a song about "birthday parties in Chicago." It is always impressive when drummers take on vocals and Ryan did not disappoint. His Americana croon had everyone swaying in place, quietly sipping their beers to the tune about serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

Deer Tick ended the evening inviting Guards, Paleo and guitarist Thomas Hardy (whom the band jokingly introduced as "Mumford and Sons") onstage. Over 15 musicians crammed the stage morphing into one big super group. Together they riled up their fans to the tune of "Let's All Go To The Bar". Immediately whatever beer was left onstage was used to spray the audience causing fits of elated madness. To make matters better Deer Tick bassist Chris Ryan jumped into the crowd's open arms while playing. Unfortunately the chaos had to come to an end. It was barely past midnight and half the audience appeared charged, ready to tackle the rest of the evening. Lucky for them there was a bar conveniently located next door.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.