Last night, Rhode Island natives Deer Tick played a concert on a boat that cruised around Boston harbor. The set up was awful: the guitars sounded tinny and the drum set was not mic’d well—and the band already had to compete with the open air on the top deck and low rumble of the ancient boat motor. Plus there was no stage on deck, so the only people who could actually see the band were those that had staked out spots early, or else had enough chutzpah to push through the tight crowd. But alas, the gods of concert ruination failed miserably, as nobody in the crowd seemed to care about any of those detracting factors. Instead, the positive aspects of the evening won out easily: it was an almost embarrassingly perfect summer night, the sun was setting magnificently behind the city skyline, the opening band, Aunt Martha, was a hit with the crowd, and the beers were reasonably priced. The prevailing mood: totally pumped.
Deer Tick is not a low-fi band by any means-- if they’re anything, they’re gritty—which definitely helped their efforts to overcome the crappy boat acoustics. They came off as a band that can successfully play any concert situation, if nothing else because of John McCauley’s highly distinctive singing voice and the underlying quality of his/their songwriting. The fact that the crowd was mostly comprised of well-lubricated die-hards that sang along to nearly every song didn’t hurt either.
The band rolled out some new material—truly new, as a few songs stumped everyone—presumably to be released on an LP sometime soon. (Note: if any fans had been concerned that the band was “going soft” since the ballad-heavy Black Dirt Sessions, know that at least one of the new tracks is a straight up hard rocker like they’ve never done before, and it kicks ass). But aside from the handful of new tracks, the band played an unsurprising but substantial set of favorites from their first three LPs, and at least one of the Nirvana covers that they are wont to pull out. As usual, they seemed to be enjoying themselves.
In all: a highly successful show, sound quality be damned.