Live Review: Deer Tick, Islington Assembly Hall

Live Review: Deer Tick, Islington Assembly Hall Deer Tick. No support act? No problem.  American alt-rock/alt-country group Deer Tick were their own support band on Tuesday night at Islington’s Assembly Hall.
Posted: 1 February 2018 Words: Alice Matthews

Deer Tick. No support act? No problem. 

American alt-rock/alt-country group Deer Tick acted as their own support band on Tuesday evening at Islington’s Assembly Hall. In September 2017, the group released two LP's entitled ‘Deer Tick Vol. 1’ and ‘Deer Tick Vol. 2’. The two records were combined to reveal the two distinct sides of the band; Vol. 1 takes in their more reflective and rootsy stripped back elements, and Vol. 2 their more volatile, garage-rock. Hailing from Providence, Rhode Island, Deer Tick are, John J. McCauley (singer-songwriter), Ian O’Neil (guitar), Chris Ryan (bass), and Dennis Ryan (drums). Last nights show demonstrated that it is hard to assign a singular instrument to any band member as John swapped between guitars to a flute, Chris expertly handled a bass guitar and cello, and Dennis’ vocals took centre stage on many songs.

Part 1 – Acoustic

The first track of the night was the peaceful and popular ‘Sea of Clouds‘ from Vol. 1. Jack then explained how the gig was going to work. In order to showcase both sides of Deer Tick, the group were to first perform an acoustic set, then take a short break before returning with an electric set. The result was a very special experience. During the acoustic part of the evening, the majority of the songs were played from the reflective Vol. 1 album. ‘Hope is Big’ was well received, and generally, the crowd seemed happy to let the music wash over them. After 40 minutes of acoustic bliss, Deer Tick galloped off stage for a quick break. The gentle acoustic guitars were swapped for electric, the cello was thrown off stage (not literally, I hope), and the quartet were ready to rock.

Part 2 – Electric

While Deer Tick were at ease playing acoustically, they really shone in the second part of the show. The crowd also livened up - between each song there was a great interaction between the band and fans. Tracks from Vol.2 were interposed with songs from earlier albums. Many of the singles clock in under the three-minute mark, so, the band managed to race through more than 20 songs. As the electric set darted (struggling to think of more deer puns) to a close, a particular favourite, ‘Look How Clean I Am’ played out much to the crowd's delight. Even if you were unfamiliar with the track, it was impossible not to dance along with the catchy chorus. The set closed with ‘These Old Shoes’ from the 2007 ‘War Elephant’ album. While the lyrics were touching, the intensity didn’t falter. The night over all too soon, the crowd chanted for an encore as the group stalked off stage. After a few prolonged moments, of course, Deer Tick obliged.      

More from buzz