Deer Tick, Guards, The Trappers @ Urban 11.09

Posted November 15, 2011 in

Deer Tick. Photo: Sam Milianta
On November 9, hundreds of Deer Tick fans packed into the Urban Lounge for a sold out show with Guards and Salt Lake City’s own The Trappers opening.

The Trappers were up first, and I wish their set had been longer. This five-piece country rock group places the lap steel and clean electric guitars first, including plenty of instrumental solos in their live performance. What pleased me most is the fact that, although being a country rock band, all of their material sounded unique. Their stage presence was a bit dull, but they rocked their instruments and played a great show. I’ll be keeping an eye out for these guys in the future.

When Guards took the stage, smoke rose from the smoke machines on stage and filled the room. Not the most original stage production ever used, but it is time tested. Guards’ lead singer uses heavy delay in the microphone, and their drummer played some lightning-fast fillers. Their sound was much more ominous and a little faster than the previous band, and some parts with their distorted electric guitar and swirling keyboard synths reminded me of Pink Floyd or MGMT in a way.

Deer Tick opened with a track off Divine Providence, “The Bump,” a pure rock n’ roll anthem with a clean, saloon-sounding piano and call-and-return style singing in the verse. Next came “Easy,” off of Born on Flag Day, and Ian O’Neil took over vocals for “Walkin’ Out the Door.” When I first heard O’Neil’s voice, just like on the album, I missed John McCauley’s gritty, high-pitched growls for a minute, but O’Neil has the confidence and the talent to project his voice over the band, and he’s got a pretty decent voice at that.

I knew that Deer Tick was going to play “Ashamed” at some point in the night. What I wasn’t ready for, however, was how they played it. On the album, War Elephant, the track is nothing but McCauley’s vocals over acoustic guitar and bass, with drums only chiming in for the last twenty seconds. For the live set, they cued up Rob Crowell on the keys with a jazz tremolo sound in place of the acoustic guitar and a saxophone solo, something I never saw coming, but for some reason, fit right in with the sound. “Spend the Night” and “These Old Shoes” were the only tracks off War Elephant that they played straightforward, and both tracks were chock full of that raw, Rolling Stones-esque sound that so many Deer Tick fans have come to love. “20 Miles,” off The Black Dirt Sessions, had more of Crowell’s jazz tremolo keys and Dennis Ryan cut loose on the drums with an electric performance. The most intimate moment of the show came during their performance of “Now It’s Your Turn,” a ballad of sorts which features Crowell’s piano playing and a vocal duet between McCauley and O’Neil. Perhaps the most intense moment came during their last song of the night, “Let’s All Go to the Bar,” the third track off Divine Providence. Guards came back on stage for this song, which is a fast-paced, irreverent anthem about drinking alcohol in a bar.

With McCauley’s sandpaper vocals and the pure grit that Deer Tick generates, this band gives me an optimistic outlook on the future of rock and roll. This is one of the few bands that I would insist that you not miss next time they roll through Salt Lake City. Check out more photos from the show here.
Deer Tick. Photo: Sam Milianta Deer Tick. Photo: Sam Milianta Guards. Photo: Sam Milianta The Trappers. Photo: Sam Milianta