Photos by Neil Van

At the start of their gig, Deer Tick frontman John Joseph McCauley commented that they were going to take advantage of the fact that they were playing on a Saturday night and play a long set.

The capacity crowd gathered at the Opera House may have enjoyed it but admittedly, when the gig entered its second hour, things did start to drag a little.

The evening got off to a pleasant start thanks to Arizona indie folk artist Courtney Marie Andrews. She took advantage of her set to showcase new material, including one song she had just written a couple weeks before and showcased excellent harmonies with her bandmates. John McCauley from Deer Tick even joined her for a song towards the end of her set.

Deer Tick Kicked off their set by taking a photo of the audience and took to the stage to the theme from the Terminator movies before launching into ‘Bluesboy’, going back to their 2013 release Negativity. They doubtlessly won over the audience when they said that Toronto was their favorite city to play.

Throughout their set, they frequently switched vocal duties between McCauley, guitarist Ian Patrick O’Neill and drummer Dennis Michael Ryan. Despite the frequent switching between vocalists, the band still had impeccable harmonies no matter who was singing. Musically, the band varied from the Americana to folk and even brought a classic rock feel to a few songs.

Virtually every number was met with a huge cheer, ‘Easy’, well, easily received one of the biggest reactions of the night. Showing how much love Toronto has for the band, singing from the audience threatened to drown out the band several times.

They brought Andrews back out for one song, a down tempo number and turned in a heartfelt cover of the old Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers chestnut ‘Love Lift Us Up’ that once again saw the audience singing along loudly.

Towards the end of the set, they commented that they had been performing together for over 15 years, with a few line-up changes, and, “The years are really sneaking up on us!”. When they played ‘Dirty Dishes’, they gave the audience a choice between an acapella version and one with a full band. They opted for a full band.

Perhaps showing that years are indeed starting to catch up with them, the band ended up kneeling on stage for the last song before the encore that saw an audience member stage diving, and the heart-stopping moment where no one caught him. But he was OK and did a little crowd surfing.

They wrapped things up with a cover of Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ and ‘Ashamed’. Deer Tick definitely gave the audience their money’s worth but admittedly, a streamlined set might have been a bit better too.