Deer Tick plays Cafe Eleven

By Ryan Buffa | 

It was the first true night of fall in St. Augustine, when a band from Rhode Island rolled into town and had fans head towards the chilled salt air by the beach.

Deer tick played at the Original Café 11 on Thursday, Oct. 20, for their “Devine Providence” tour and, quite honestly, turned some heads and received some confused looks.

Deer Tick consists of Lead singer and guitarist John McCauley, bassist and vocalist Chris Ryan, guitar and vocalist Ian O’Neil, Rob Crowel on keys, saxophone and vocals and drummer and vocalist Dennis Ryan.

Technically, Deer Tick had their mix of folk-punk down, but the set list was, well, strange. The band would play a song that would either give listeners sleepy eyes, or make them want to grab for their lover and dance to some ballad-like and slow tempo songs.

But it was in between the songs that seemed to throw everyone off their rhythm. Once one song was complete, McCauley would start playing a riff from old rock covers to the point where it seemed as if the band was being forced to play along. Covers such as “I’m on a plain” by Nirvana made the crowd go from swaying side to side to moshing into one another. They even squeezed in an AC/DC tribute in their hour and half set.

It was easy to see the tension between the band mates. But McCauley kept on singing away with his crackled voice, which sounds like he survived a winter’s long blizzard by smoking a pack a day. The strained faces of the band members did not seem to stop McCauley from throwing back beers, smiling and showing off his one gold tooth.

McCauley’s vocals are are gruffly in a comforting, Kurt Cobain-esque way. Therefore, the Nirvana cover was flattering. However, it made me wonder if I had paid to see Deer Tick perform or listen to covers (considering the whole broke college student aspect).

The crowd packed in the venue and those that were outside enjoying the cold weather flowed back inside when popular Deer Tick songs began, such as “Old Shoes” and “Christ Jesus.” It was almost as if the crowd let out a sigh of relief as they danced and sang along with the songs they wanted to hear.

The night was a beautiful welcoming of the new season. Deer Tick played well, but they could have had a more organized set list. There were moments in the show that sounded great and showed the talent that Deer Tick has when they stay true to their original sound.

However, the show was an example of what happens when a band pushes a disorganized set list one cover song too far, instead of playing the songs the fans love to hear.

Photos by Andrew Hollingsworth

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