There’s something innately unlikable about Deer Tick. Maybe it’s the photos on their myspace page of girls in bikinis holding guns that aren’t quite tongue-and-cheek enough. Maybe it’s John McCauley’s voice. Maybe it’s because they truly don’t give a fuck about what you think of them (of course, all these could be plusses for the band, too). Whatever it is, something about their latest album, Born On Flag Day rubbed many reviewers the wrong way. This defiant quality definitely makes them more appealing in some ways. Personally, I thought their performance a few months ago at Olde Club was pretty darn good. Even though they’re from Rhode Island, they’re a pretty sweet rockin’, drinkin’, swaggerin’ Southern rock band. I didn’t really get where all the reviewers were coming from.
Their performance at Prospect Park on Friday, however, made me change my mind. It makes sense now that they would seem great in a hundred person venue full of college students slurping down PBRs. That drunken, fun quality they had at the Olde Club show did not translate at all to Prospect Park’s bandshell. Instead, they came off as a sloppy, boring, rock band with mediocre songs that sound like Lynrd Skynrd knockoffs. They didn’t play tightly and did gimmicky things that seemed pointless. At one point John McCauley started playing drums (poorly) for absolutely no reason. It just seemed that the band was either sharing a bad private joke with each other or they were trying to hard to be interesting. McCauley even proposed to his girlfriend from Those Darlins’ on stage and managed to come off bumbling and insincere. He awkwardly made her take her boot off and gave her a toe ring. It could have been cute, but it just came off as poorly conceived. The bottom line was that this band does not yet have the stage presence to play that large of a venue. Maybe they were nervous, but Friday was not Deer Tick’s night.