Deer Tick smashes through 23 songs at the Waiting Room

Deer Tick

John McCauley of Deer Tick performs at the Waiting Room.

Bottle of Patron in hand, John McCauley took the stage Sunday night and declared he’d been drinking tequila. A lot more tequila than usual.

“It’s been a good day,” he said.

Miss the show? You missed one of the best of late. Deer Tick kicked out the hard jams to a packed house at the Waiting Room Lounge for about two hours. The 23-song set was full of slow jams, hot licks, dudes kissing and one instance of McCauley playing his guitar with his junk.

Yeah, that’s the kind of night it was. Illuminated by an old-timey lighted sign of its own name, Deer Tick kicked into the set with “The Bump.”

By the time the band took the stage (opener Teenage Mysticism played to a few dozen and Turbo Fruits to almost 100), the stage area was pretty packed. I figured there’d be a bigger crowd since the band’s well-praised and has only (to my knowledge) played Omaha once (an opening gig for Jenny Lewis at Slowdown).

Somewhere between alt country, 50s pop and screaming garage rock, Deer Tick careened through a large selection of its catalog and shined each song − even the folky ones − to a punk sheen.

As evidenced by the genital guitar solo at the end of the show, McCauley getting “iced” by a fan and also smashing a glass on the stage (I’m sure Marc and Jim loved that), there’s an element of out-of-control-ness with these guys that’s typically lacking from modern rock shows. I think we all could use a little more of it. (OK, less the indecent exposure thing, and more the punk rock attitude.)

“Did you guys go to church? I didn’t go to church but I masturbated this morning,” McCauley said at one point. That’s the kind of thing he did all night: some heartfelt sentiment (usually in song) followed by some asinine behavior or quip.

I enjoyed that McCauley occasionally took a back seat to the lead guitarist and drummer, who sang vocals on songs such as “Clownin’ Around” and “Walkin’ Out the Door.” I was also taken aback by McCauley’s voice, which normally sounds just croaky enough to give some gravelly weight to their tunes. But on “Ashamed” and a few others, he really sang. He hit the notes and you could feel the soul in his voice. Impressive.

Members of Turbo Fruits joined the band at various points, including for the encore, which McCauley blithely announced was occurring without leaving the stage before “Not So Dense.”

Personally, I loved “Miss K.” and the band’s cover of The Mats’ “Bastards of Young.” Another favorite moment was mid-way through the set when McCauley played solo versions of “Smith Hill” and “Art Isn’t Real.”

The cover of “Bastards of Young” sort of set off the crowd near the end of the set, but the real mosher was a cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right.” Man, things got nuts right around then with one (really drunk) guy even getting forcefully removed from the venue.

The perfect end was “Let’s All Go to the Bar,” which kept the mosh attitude alive and had both the punkers and the hipsters shouting and singing.

Standing near the front (with nearly every member of the local music press), I was bummed to turn around when the show ended around 1 a.m. to find the crowd had majorly thinned out. I mean, I get it. It’s a school night. Maybe you don’t want to drink until the wee hours if you have to work the next morning, but those that left missed the best part of the show.

Full Setlist

“The Bump”
“Easy”
“Main Street”
“Baltimore Blues No. 1″
“Make Believe”
“Walkin’ Out the Door”
“Ashamed”
“Clownin’ Around”
“Funny Word”
“Spend the Night”
“Standing at the Threshold”
“Now It’s Your Turn”
“Smith Hill”
“Art Isn’t Real”
“20 Miles”
“These Old Shoes”
“Bad to the Bone”
“Bastards of Young”
“When it all Falls Down”
“Miss K.”
“Not So Dense”
“(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)”
“Let’s All Go to the Bar”

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