Summer in New York can be blistering misery at times, and sweltering on the subway platforms can make you daydream of swiftly traveling in air conditioned pods on vast midwestern roads. But it does have its unparalleled perks, like the plethora of free concerts. One of my favorites this summer was Deer Tick, who played on Pier 54 on the Hudson River in August. Earlier in the summer at the Northside Festival I saw the band perform as Deervana, a Nirvana cover band, but having obsessed over their music on many late nights, I was eager to hear their own songs.
Deer Tick play a kind of unhinged indie fueled by whiskey-soaked country and echoes of punk rock. Most of the unhinged part comes from lead singer and primary member John McCauley, who has such scratchy, versatile emotion in his voice, the same that makes it possible for him to cover everything from Nirvana to the Replacements to “La Bamba.” Please watch below for the most dancing-on-the-edge-of-a-knife version you’ll ever hear of that usually so exuberant song. And yes, he ends it saying what you think (Mumford & Sons fans, cover your ears):
Their set was awesome and crowded with songs from all their albums, including just McCauley playing the more emotionally wrenching songs that first drew me to the band. (Like “Christ Jesus” and “20 Miles.”) And now that I’ve seen the Antlers, Deerhunter, and Deer Tick all for free on Pier 54, this means they have to bring Deerhoof next summer, right?