"I really, really hate New York City." The rooftop of a luxury apartment in Chelsea on a brilliant August day seemed the perfect setting for John McCauley, Deer Tick's singer/songrwriter-in-chief, to wax vitriolic about just how rotten this gleaming megalopolis really is.
"It's all just too much," he said, as photographers buzzed around the band (about to perform for our Gothamist House series), who sat snug inside a clamshell-shaped wicker loveseat that had likely hosted a thousand banker-hickeys. McCauley, who was dripping sweat and on his second drink before noon, smiled as he launched into a tirade about how the city wore him down—thanks in part to the prodigious amount of substances he felt obligated to take when visiting. The band was in town for a free show at Pier 54, and was in "hurry up and wait" rhythm of touring. "I just can't do it, I could not live here. I get here and 12 hours later I have to fucking leave."
McCauley looks at his drummer, the exquisitely bearded Dennis Ryan, who just shrugs and pulls another Camel out of the pack. As soon as McCauley arrived he began drenching his bandmates with Aqua Velva and Old Spice, knowing that they were essentially helpless to resist. As the band moved around the rooftop, helping themselves to the sun-warmed vodka, it smelled like a middle school locker room, but no one seemed to care and everyone was grinning: Aqua Velva showers are old hat.
Deer Tick's third album, The Black Dirt Sessions, has been called out as an example of a band becoming too "comfortable in its own skin," but if comfort makes for lackluster studio efforts, it does wonders for a live show on a patch of Astroturf. Perhaps they should consider launching their own aftershave with the release of their fourth album, Divine Providence, in October.
You can see Deer Tick's guitarist, Ian O'Neil, for free tonight at St. Vitus with Goddamn Rattlesnake and Two Gallants.