Review: Deer Tick, Dead Confederate bring dirty, ruckus-filled rock to Crowbar in Tampa
On the surface, you wouldn’t think that Deer Tick, above, and Dead Confederate would work on the same bill. Both band names start with the letter “D” and they have similar instrumentation, but that is really where the comparison ends.
But on tour together, both bands delivered powerful sets Thursday night at Crowbar in Ybor City.
First up was Dead Confederate. Hailing from Athens, Ga., they’ve played Tampa several times, but this was, by far, their largest crowd to date. Dead Confederate laid down earsplitting, dreamy, fuzzed-out rock that draws heavily from the best elements of early '90s alternative rock.
Imagine, if you will, that Radiohead, Nirvana and My Bloody Valentine had a bastard child that they locked in a barn in Georgia and left it to raise itself. While there are plenty of bands that fall in the same genre as Dead Confederate, what sets them apart is the southern-fried organ and keyboard that cuts through the guitars. Without this, Dead Confederate would still be better than most of their contemporaries; but because of it, they absolutely obliterate the competition.
Closing out the night was Deer Tick. These fine fellows are from Providence, R.I., but based on their sound, you would have thought they were from Athens. Heck, based on how both bands sound, maybe Dead Confederate and Deer Tick were switched at birth.
Deer Tick played a ruckus-filled 16-song set that kept getting better with every song. Each time you thought that this must be their last song, they pulled another trick out of the bag that sucked you back in.
Touring for their new album, The Black Dirt Sessions, Deer Tick served up some of the dirtiest '70s-inspired country and blues I’ve seen in a while. As the set progressed, Deer Tick kept surprising.
Here’s what I learned: Their five-part harmonies sweet and sticky like molasses. John McCauley, who sounds like he’s gargling rocks with whiskey when he sings, is one helluva finger-picker on the guitar. Keyboardist Rob Crowell also blows one mean saxophone. Bass player Christopher Ryan is, hands down, one of the best bass players I’ve seen.
Owing much of their drawl and twangy sound to what must be a massive record collection between all five members, Deer Tick pay tribute to their roots with a variety of choice cover songs. Tom Petty’s Breakdown and Chuck Berry’s Maybellene got played, but it was ZZ Top’s Cheap Sunglasses that got the full Deer Tick treatment. While the original oozes in Texas cool, Deer Tick turned it into an aggressive, raw and gritty punch in the gut.
Did I mention something about a ruckus earlier? Deer Tick confessed to the crowd at the start of their set that they may have had a little too much to drink before the show. They were by no means sloppy-drunk, but were obviously getting close. Beer was sprayed on the crowd, guitarist Ian O’Neil left the stage to sing and play the aforementioned Berry cover down in the audience, some drums and cymbals got knocked over; but it was all in good fun.
The night ended with McCauley getting a little too intimate with his guitar while being piled upon by some of his band mates and then doused with silly string. It was a fitting end to a superb night.
-- Gabriel Loewenberg, tbt*