Rock ‘n roll is often a vehicle for honesty, debauchery, love, and heartbreak. As cheesy as that sentence is, that’s the best way that I could come up with to describe Deer Tick. They’re a vehicle for all of those emotions, which overlap from time to time. Over the past decade, frontman John McCauley has done a lot of traveling, both physically and mentally. Early Deer Tick records were often Replacements-esque, in that they had depth but also the right amount of alcohol and swagger to blare from college dorm rooms and dive bars alike. Hell, 2011’s Divine Providence has a song called “Let’s All Go to the Bar,” which sounds exactly like you’d expect.
Last year the band released Negativity on Partisan Records, and it’s a smoother, sleeker sound. A lot of that can be attributed to Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, who produced the record. There’s a lot more layering and depth to both the songs and lyrical content. It also features McCauley’s wife, singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton. Three or four years ago it would seem weird to have someone of Carlton’s ilk on a Deer Tick record, but it works perfectly on Negativity.
So what to expect at the Highdive tonight? Fun. Deer Tick is an incredibly fun live band. The comparisons to the Replacements don’t end with their sound or early records. Much like the Mats in their heyday, Deer Tick has sprinkled in some pretty fantastic cover songs into their repertoire. Everything from Santo and Johnny to Warren Zevon to Nirvana is fair game for these guys and they perfectly compliment the Deer Tick catalog.
This is going to be one of the most fun Thursdays in Champaign before the Pygmalion Festival. Don’t sleep on this show.
And now, five videos that should help solidify your decision to see a show tonight: