One expects a lot when attending a Mac DeMarco show (full name Macbriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco); juvenile antics, witty banter, a healthy dose of jangle pop and of course a great live performance. We got just that and more at his show at The Hi Fi on Wednesday. The 24 year old may only have three albums under his belt, and he may be relatively new to the touring circuit, however DeMarco is already a seasoned entertainer with more charisma than most people tend to gain in a lifetime.
The Murlocs were the main supports on the night, and they delivered a tight 40-minute set of sixties-inspired garage rock. Introduced to the stage by Agnes Demarco, mother of Mac, the quintet mostly played tracks from their latest LP Loopholes. They treated us to such songs as ‘Paranoid Joy’, ‘Rattle The Chain’ and of course ‘Space Cadet’, as well as some wonderfully gritty newer songs too. The Murlocs had groove and charm, and the harmonica tones coming from frontman Ambrose Kenny-Smith were superb. This group of immensely talented musicians are just getting better and better as a live act, and it was a perfect warmup for the main man of the evening.
After a very short wait, DeMarco’s band arrived on stage with a roar from the audience thought to be unmatchable; at least until Mac himself appeared and the full force of his cultish legion of fans could be heard. There were kids left right and centre wearing dingy op-shop hats and overalls, proving that the culture that revolves around DeMarco is remarkable. Opening with the title track from his 2014 album Salad Days, the room started shaking, the drums were tight, the guitars were clean and the grin on DeMarco’s face was priceless.
It’s only when you see Mac and his band live that you realise how many hits he has up his sleeve. The first half of the show was filled with crowd pleasers, including breakout single ‘Ode To Viceroy’; a tender love song devoted to his favourite brand of cigarettes. The opening notes of the song provoked a sizable puff of smoke to drift over the crowd as numerous punters started punching darts in light of the song’s sentiment. The security at The Hi-Fi quickly realised that there was no controlling DeMarco’s fans, and so they chilled out after the first bracket of songs. Other memorable tracks from the first half of the show included a very upbeat and fast version of ‘Let Her Go’ and ‘The Stars Keep On Calling My Name’ from DeMarco’s appropriately named second album 2.
Mac’s onstage banter got a little crude at points as he told a charming story of how earlier that day he farted and “a little bit came out”. DeMarco’s band further educated the crowd of the benefits of safe sex, exercise, a healthy diet and respecting each other. The whole thing certainly leant towards sarcasm, however their lovable, boyish personalities made you feel inclined to act on their advice. DeMarco’s bass player stayed unusually silent throughout the whole set with the exception of his heavy metal screaming solo at the end of the title track from DeMarco’s 2012 album Rock and Roll Nightclub.
The end of the show was met with crowd favorite ‘Freaking Out The Neighborhood’, which started with a slow jam reggae version of the tune. DeMarco’s crowd interaction skills were second to none as he orchestrated a full blown call and response with the audience. ‘Chamber Of Reflection’ was a slight let down as the keyboards on stage appeared to be tuned to different keys, so slight modifications had to be made mid-song.
Mac ended the show by pulling off what was probably the greatest crowd surfing attempt ever seen by most people in the room. Throwing himself intro the hands of his adoring fans he surfed to the back of the room, managed to pull himself up onto the balcony to greet his fans standing upstairs, before plunging three or four meters down into a sea of hands ready to catch him. For the encore Mac returned to the stage to cover Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’. The joy on his face while shredding his guitar to a clear childhood favorite in front of hundreds and hundreds of people was heartwarming.
Mac DeMarco is somehow able to play an hour and a half show of hits and crowd pleasers, a feat not many people at the age of 24 years old can do. Although his music sounds remarkably better on his albums, the live energy from his band and fans is paramount. Nobody wanted the show to end, and all of the words that could be heard walking out of The Hi-Fi were nothing but positive. Basically, Mac DeMarco is a must see act for anyone who enjoys breezy, nonchalant pop music.
Note: article photograph taken at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2015, Sydney.