Last Thursday, Providence-based rockers Deer Tick announced a free show at tiny Brooklyn club Death By Audio as a direct response to what they called “unnecessary and unjust” police brutality used against women at the Occupy Wall Street protests early last week, an incident (captured on video) that featured an officer pepper-spraying nonviolent protestors. And last night, the band showed their support for the cause while avoiding overtly political statements: To kick things off, Deer Tick exploded onto stage with an electric version of Hank Williams’ “Move It On Over” and frontman John McCauley said to the capacity crowd of around 200, “Not taking sides here. Just don’t think cops should beat the shit out of anyone.”
Before the show, which was sponsored by Brooklyn Vegan, McCauley told Rolling Stone that members of the band were so frustrated with what happened that they decided to make people aware the only way they knew how – by playing music. “[Police] are there to serve and protect, and in theory, that’s a great thing,” McCauley said. “But people should know that you can be self-empowered and you can call cops out when they act out of line. Cops aren’t above the law. We’re just trying to make both sides understand where the other is coming from.”
After McCauley’s opening statement, the band left the politics aside and tore right back into the set with a rugged rendition of “The Bump,” the opening track of their upcoming album Divine Providence (out October 25th). Aside from a few requests to “not throw rocks at cops,” the band spent the rest of the two-hour plus concert focused on getting drunk and playing really, really loud rock & roll.
The group managed to cut through a 25-plus song set, including classic songs from their first two albums like “Ashamed,” “Baltimore Blues No. 1” and “Easy”; a few more live debuts from their soon-to-be-released record; and a slew of covers, featuring takes on the Replacements, Rolling Stones and of course, Nirvana (a band they cover as “Deervana”). McCauley even managed to sneak a few Foreigner riffs into the set and use them as transitions, so as the night neared completion – when he claimed that he “ran out of thinking power” – no one was surprised.
That’s not to say Deer Tick didn’t have a message – it was just a quiet one among the madness of the concert. “It’s not huge,” McCauley admitted. “But maybe one cop hears about this and maybe he cleans up a little and doesn’t go out at night and fuck with people, you know? And then maybe we can change one person’s mind to not be afraid of law enforcement and not provoke them.”
• Photos: Occupy Wall Street