A precious few seconds passed after waking up before I remembered once again what happened Sunday night at The Waiting Room. It wasn’t that Deer Tick’s John McCauley planted a sloppy kiss on Turbo Fruits’ Matt Hearn. Come on, it was Hearn’s birthday.
It wasn’t that McCauley finished a glass of beer, tossed it a few feet in the air and watched as it didn’t bounce on the stage like he hoped it would. No, it wasn’t that either. As the lightbulbs of the “Deer Tick” sign foretold — as they flashed an occasional “dick” — what I remembered was McCauley pulling down his pants to play guitar with his penis.
It’s a shame that’s what sticks out. Maybe if I had seen him pee in a bottle, maybe that would have been the first thing I remembered. But the heavy dose of gravelly vocals, the onslaught of guitars and everything else musical pales in comparison to, well, you know what.
— Kevin Coffey (@owhmusicguy) May 21, 2012
If anything, it was a little too long, too. It could have been shorter. Deer Tick’s set, that is. Teenage Mysticism finished early, it seemed, and Turbo Fruits kicked out 40 minutes or so of well-made garage rock, which felt all the more drug-influenced with their new smoke machine. But despite the openers starting on time and plowing through sets, Deer Tick put in a hefty two hours and change on a Sunday night.
Don’t get them wrong, though. The band and their occasional guests from Turbo Fruits were serious about their songs, at least most of them. I pined for the alt country parts slipped in the garage rock guitar solos and drums, and I found them in the voices of McCauley, guitarist Ian O’Neil and drummer Dennis Ryan. Some of the chord progressions are one, four, five rock, and others throw in minors or more for color.
McCauley wrote most of the songs, too, and his voice clearly stood out as having the most character, the most emotion through the growl. I say he wrote most of the songs because the band threw in a few covers: “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood, “Bastards of Young” by The Replacements and “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” by, of course, Beastie Boys. Understandably, the last one there riled up the crowd a bit, leading to one inebriated fellow's unintentional exit.
The best reprieve from the haywire drunkenness was a pair of solo McCauley performances, which were decided by a vote from the audience and followed with a comment on democracy. Sure, the break from the full-band antics could have been longer, but it was just enough time to recoup and head into the second half of the set.
The night ended with "Let's All Go To The Bar," a raucous punk rock song that answers most every line with "Let's all go to the bar." It's the best way to end a set filled with Patron, McCauley getting "iced" and apparently sharing a Bud Light with someone in the crowd. Maybe on a Friday or Saturday night, and without the drive back to Lincoln, I would have been all for the entertainment portion of the music. But maybe I wasn't cut out for penis-played guitars. Oh well.
“Baltimore Blues No. 1″
“Walkin’ Out the Door”
“Spend the Night”
“Standing at the Threshold”
“Now It’s Your Turn”
“Art Isn’t Real”
“These Old Shoes”
“Bad to the Bone”
“Bastards of Young”
“When it all Falls Down”
“Not So Dense”
“(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)”
“Let’s All Go to the Bar”
Michael Todd is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. He was hoping for "Song About a Man," but he'll no doubt see Deer Tick again when they come through. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.