Concert Review: Deer Tick & Aunt Martha Rock On! Concert Cruise in Boston, MA
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale of the RockOn Deer Tick/Aunt Martha concert cruise – the best (and least catastrophic) way to spend a three hour tour.
If you survived the pretty rigorous bag-search and pat-down, you boarded the boat with 400 of your closest pals, bought your American Flag themed beer, and walked right into sound check. People started to file to the front of the boat immediately, securing solid viewing early-on to the sold-out show. A perfect 80 degree July night, the gods granted clear panoramas of pink sunset along the Boston skyline – the atmosphere was cinematic in quality, and the soundtrack didn’t disappoint.
While most of the folks aboard the ship were there to see headlining fellow-New Englanders Deer Tick, openers Aunt Martha won themselves more than a few new fans that night. A true alt-country/revamped Americana band, singer Tim Noyes’ tone reminded me of a less-whiney Adam Levine, and when he hit higher in his register there were inklings of a less-British Oasis. I think the closest parallel might be a bit more obscure, but their sound is most reminiscent of a minimalist Blind Pilot. Noyes, aided by only a skosh of reverb, wasn’t afraid to drag his vocals out, letting them resonate and glide over the simple bass, steady beats, and toothsome strings. It’s easy to tell when musicians are more absorbed with themselves or with their music, and there was no question of Aunt Martha’s sincerity. Even when the ark began to sway and they got jostled around, they remained totally engrossed in sound. When their set was over the crowd’s cheers were almost as deafening as the boat’s speakers.
With a mini dance-party interlude, consisting of MJ, some Curtis Mayfield, and the obligatory Lonely Island “I’m On A Boat,” it didn’t take too long for Deer Tick to hit the stage, who cranked out over 20 songs for the very excited booze cruise dwellers. If you’re not already familiar with Deer Tick, lead singer John McCauley’s voice sounds like a scuzzy mix of Bob Dylan and The Tallest Man On Earth. They have moments where they sound more like Neutral Milk Hotel or Elvis Perkins with gravely swag, and moments where they sound like Creedence’s whiskey-slugging cousins. Though Deer Tick traipses along alt-country, rock, and blues lines, their live show felt more like a Dropkick Murphys show – especially at sea, with beers held high in the air, many of their songs sounded like end-of-the-night drinking songs. With so many fans singing along, it was like watching Boston hipster karaoke, with Deer Tick being the power-ballad of choice instead of Journey.
While the crowd seemed pretty well-versed with their catalog, some of the biggest crowd reactions came from songs off their first full-length album, War Elephant, like “These Old Shoes” and “Ashamed.” Even when they played new music they made sure to get their fans involved, requesting a call-and-response of “let’s all go to the bar” on their newer chorus. Whether you knew every lyric or had never heard a note and just appreciated the fact that they played a Christmas song in the middle of summer, Deer Tick performed with such feverous urgency and magnetism that both old and new fans were consumed by their bravado.
On my train ride home, there was one guy in the car who had been at the show, and after a stint with his headphones playing air guitar dramatically, he started asking his neighbors if they’d been at the show, too. The fellow next to him hadn’t heard of Deer Tick before, so the guy passed over an ear bud to the stranger, where they continued to rock out together. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the booze, but I couldn’t think of a more appropriate nightcap – an evening experience so powerful that it could bond rarely-friendly Bostonians over a passion for local music.
To find out upcoming RockOn! Concert Cruises check out this link