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Coachella, beyond the main stage: Deer Tick brings an outlaw attitude to the desert

April 15, 2010 | 10:37 am

COACHELLA COUNTDOWN: In the days leading up to the three-day Indio fest that begins Friday, Pop & Hiss gives you the reasons to arrive before the headliners.

Who: Deer Tick

From: Providence, Rhode Island

Reason to care: In a just world, Deer Tick would be in Indio one week after Coachella, performing instead at the country-focused Stagecoach. The band's whiskey-scorched rock 'n' roll is more Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings than it is Thom Yorke and Muse, yet Deer Tick's sloppy Southern-influenced power chords are a long way removed from what passes for mainstream country in 2010. "Life is beautiful, but beauty is a dying art," sings John McCauley with an alcoholic's croak on "Hell on Earth," one of the band's last-call-worthy slow-dances on sophomore effort "Flag Day." Yet this isn't all music to get sad and drunk to, as songs such as "Straight into a Storm" and "Friday XIII" are built for kicking the peanut shells off the barroom floor. 

Listen: "Flag Day" opens with "Easy," above, and it may as well serve as a Deer Tick manifesto. A little bitter, a little angry and a little dejected, the guitars come in slow, riding a rhythmic storm that feels as if it's ready to pummel the plain states. As the song builds, the band behind McCauley hurries to match his vocal scruff. 

Fun fact: The band didn't mean to be politically incorrect when it chose its name -- some people just took it that way. Wrote McCauley on the band's website, "Some folks have taken offense to the name, but it's not like we're advocates or parasitic arachnids, I just thought it sounded cool."

Next: Don't think you'll be able to catch what's sure-to-be an early Friday slot? The band will be back in L.A. on April 27, opening for Dr. Dog at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. Get there early, and have a pint of Eagle Rock Brewery's Equinox next door at Blue Palms

-- Todd Martens


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