It was a night to remember inside a half-packed 191 Toole on Monday night, as college rock favorites Deer Tick shredded through a two-set masterpiece.
The Providence, Rhode Island-based quintet—touring in support of their new double EP (Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Vol. 2)—brought their typical punch-drunk energy to the Old Pueblo, blasting through two sets of music, as part of their Twice is Nice Tour, to the small but thoroughly energized contingent.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night though came not from the band itself, however, but in the dry whit and charm put forth by standup comic Solomon Georgio.
Georgio's opening set revolved was a self-effacing monologue about the struggles of growing up as a gay man in a immigrant family, hailing from Ethiopia, mixed in with stories about his personal life.
His routine drew wild applause and laughs from the crowd, before yielding the stage to the main act—who started the evening with an all-acoustic set.
The band tore through their first set, playing a mixture of new songs from Vol. 1 and peyote and whiskey-soaked classics, from albums of yole.
Singer John McCauley bounced between his stool and the keyboard nestled into the far-righthand corner of the stage in the opening set, providing the dulcet tones that we've come to love over the years.
The band was tight all night, wasting no time between songs, and making the most of their time on stage, hitting all the high notes and low-tempo valleys in-between.
A new perspective
It was my first time seeing the band in five years—since seeing them shortly after the release of Divine Providence—a college radio favorite full of songs about drunken debauchery and youthful dumbassery.
That show, in which Deer Tick was the opening act for Athens, Georgia heavyweights The Drive-By Truckers, had a completely different vibe—with McCauley and company toeing the line between drunken discord and beautiful harmony, with several screw-ups in between.
There were no such mishaps Monday, showing the strides the band has taken in its maturation since that night a half-decade ago in Washington D.C.
Leaving on a high-note
It's clear that this iteration of the band is much more focused on music, and less on the self-destruction they were known for during the War Elephant and Black Dirt Sessions albums of a decade or so ago.
It's all the better, to be honest, as they performed at a meteoric level on Monday, leaving the crowd in a sober stupor, after an electrified second set that hit on a lot of the band's greatest hits.
Perhaps the highlight of the night for me was hearing them play an old-time classic, "Baltimore Blues No. 2," from War Elephant, that I used to play the cover off of when I was a college radio DJ in Fort Collins.
That song, about my de facto hometown (I was born in Annapolis, Maryland), was wonderfully performed on Monday, with McCauley hitting his notes perfectly, as a chorus of imitators lovingly belted out the lyrics in the peanut gallery.
The final song of the night, fittingly enough, was a tongue-in-cheek rendition of Joe Cocker's "You are So Beautiful," a fitting end for an awesome night of rock music.
It was a beautiful night for jangly guitars and raw energy—it was a perfect rock and roll night in the Old Pueblo.