Dawes, Deer Tick
The Opera House in Toronto, ON
March 11, 2011
Review by: Lucas Samuels
Photos by: Michelle Cortese
The prospect of seeing Dawes, Deer Tick and the band new alt-country group Middle Brother all in one night had me dreaming of CMW before I had even heard the Middle Brother album.
It was a bit surprising to see so many people clear out after Deer Tick's set. Middle Brother was the headlining band, and definitely my draw to the show. The young supergroup wisely opened with "Blue Eyes", a perfect whiskey-drinking tune that really epitomizes Middle Brother. It has some great harmonies, catchy lyrics and a comfortable simplicity that can only come when writing songs with your best, like-minded friends. The boys threw in a little doo-wop during "Someday", which was the surprise song of the night. It was hard to believe that the group would attempt to recreate this song, but all the Motown soul of the album version was right there during the live performance. Taylor Goldsmith proved why he is one of the best young singers in rock and roll right now during "Blood and Guts", a tender ballad that escalates into a punky-screamer full of heartbreak. The band encored with a choice cover of The Replacement's "Portland", exited the stage swiftly, and joined The Opera House crowd ready to share some drinks.
Lead singer and guitarist Taylor Goldsmith showed up on stage all by his lonesome to start off the night. Plucking through a solo rendition of "My Girl To Me", I couldn't help but wonder why his band mates weren't joining him on stage. Turns out, their pianist was stuck in Buffalo, unable to cross the border due to some legal issues. Thankfully, midway through the set, Taylor brought out his little brother Griffin to sing some harmonies and add a little more depth to the set. Later on, Goldsmith was joined on stage by Jonny Corndawg to play a few songs in a more traditional country vain. Bass guitarist Wylie Gelber and Deer Tick's pianist emerged for full band renditions of the epic "Peace in the Valley" and the anthemic "When My Time Comes", which had the whole audience singing along.
Deer Tick's set was fueled by John McCauley III's Kurt Cobain-like stage presence and was rocking to say the least. While they may be rooted in alt-country and certainly have a rock-a-billy charm on record, on stage they're a heavy rock and roll group. Tunes from The Black Dirt Sessions such as "Choir of Angels" and "Twenty Miles" came off much heavier during their performance. Vasquez's ocassional presence during the set also seemed to bring much excitement to McCauley who couldn't seem to stand still, playing all over the stage and amps.