“After hearing them sound check, I’m a little unnerved,” said Tommy Stinson about Deer Tick. “It’s a daunting thing to cover an entire Beatles album, but hats off to them. They’re actually really good.” Deer Tick, who performed Meet the Beatles! in its entirety as part of their 10th anniversary residency at Brooklyn Bowl, did exactly what they do whenever they play New York City—sell out the damn venue. Perhaps that had a bit to do with the star-studded lineup Deer Tick recruited for the performance, which included the Replacements/Guns N’ Roses‘ Tommy Stinson, Dawes‘ Taylor Goldsmith and Felice Brothers’ James Felice.
Deer Tick, who has always resented the alt-rock label, demonstrated their range as they dipped into flavorful pop versions of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and “All My Loving,” with singer/songwriter John McCauley and guitarist Ian O’Neil getting close to that magic Lennon and McCartney once found. When Goldsmith came out to sing lead on “Don’t Bother Me,” the crowd went nuts, just as they did when he and McCauley stripped down the set to cater to an acoustic repertoire of their band Middle Brother’s hits like “Million Dollar Bill.” Stinson, who had caught the duo sound checking hours prior, called their chemistry “simply beautiful.”
Later on, Stinson took the stage and led the guys through “Not A Moment Too Soon,” a track off his 2004 solo record, before delving into a blindsiding rendition of the Who’s “The Kids Are Alright” in what felt like a passing of the torch. You couldn’t help but feel proud for McCauley who, as a kid dressed in Replacements T-shirts, dreamed of one day performing on the same stage as his influences.
It’s interesting to think back maybe six or seven years ago to when McCauley was running his own website for Deer Tick. It was a gray, unassuming webpage with a basic green font that read, “I don’t like flashy websites,” along with a photo and a list of shows. Years later, McCauley hasn’t changed. He’s that same guy with a guitar who’s in it for the love of music, not the love of money.
Fifty years ago, America welcomed the Beatles. Thirty years ago, they embraced the Replacements’ Let It Be. And here we are now, honoring a band within whom lives a fire that makes you feel as though they want to make a difference in people’s lives. Ten years from now, they’ll still be making that same difference.
– Melissa Caruso