It was a beautiful eve at the Abbotsford Convent. Men, women and children were all round as they feasted on pay-as-you-please Nepalese cuisine, drank cold frothy beers and frolicked around the lawns in the summer sunset. The Shadow Electric was particularly calm albeit packed; indicating the relaxed and yet mildly insane show which was to come. If you’re wondering what I mean by “relaxed and yet mildly insane” – I’m referring to an atmosphere that few musicians can create. Few besides Canadian wunderkin Mac Demarco.
The first act was Jesse Davidson. In front of a cinema-sized projection of ‘Making of the Bush’; an Attenborough-esque documentary following various Australian fauna, Davidson played his set of indie dream-pop to a happy and admiring audience; with his music serving as a perfect accompaniment to the sunset.
Melbourne Vans-clad and beanie-wearing trio ScotDrakula then took to the stage with their brand of bouncy indie-pop, evoking the creation of a responsively bouncy dance pit (not to be confused with a mosh pit). Tracks of theirs including Kick Out the Amber Lamps saw their frontman howl vocals with a distinctive rasp over heavily distorted guitar and a relatively clean rhythm section. The lead singer’s banter between songs hinted at a Canadian accent; prepping the audience for the Vans-clad Canadian performer who was to come on next.
The ‘Making of the Bush’ rolled on as Mac Demarco and his 3-man band came on; with sedate visuals of Australian marine life blaring from behind the band. They commenced with the opening track from Demarco’s latest album 2; Cooking Up Something Good. The audience migrated closer to the front during the opening songs, with Demarco encouraging them to ‘shake more’ in his smooth, cigarette-tainted voice uncharacteristic(ally sexy) of a person of only twenty-three. Demarco and his band continued with tracks from 2 including Stars Keep on Calling My Name, My Kind of Woman, and Annie.
The set became progressively looser as it went on; until it reached the point where people were quite literally starting to rock out with their cock out and removing their shirts at Demarco’s insistence. A known lover of cigarettes, Demarco lit up during Ode to Viceroy – prompting others in the outdoor crowd to do the same. His onstage smoking antics and cigarette breath were apparently not enough to deter fans (of both genders) from making out with Demarco and his bass player when they lent into the front row for some lip lovin’. By the way, I promise this concert was not as creepy as it probably sounds. In fact, the set was markedly tight given the band’s on stage mess-arounds; with both Demarco and the second guitarist breaking into speedy and high-pitched licks during almost every song without missing a note.
After refusing a generously offered joint from an audience member, Demarco and the band launched into a medley of covers. The first of these was Undone by Weezer. Following this was Break Shit by Limp Bizkit, Message in a Bottle by The Police, Blackbird, Stairway to Heaven (with an audience member on vocals) and then Enter Sand Man. But then, it’s needless to say that they saved the best cover until last. If two hours straight of Australian wildlife projections didn’t perfectly encapsulate the whole entire essence of everything Australian, Demarco’s cover of Thunderstruck did. Sure, the cover was barely organized and mostly consisted of Demarco tapping out the riff; but it put the audience into a state where they encouraged Demarco to climb things – which was presumably his aim. It saddens me to say that Demarco ended the set having not climbed anything due to the ancient and subsequently frail state of the Abbotsford Convent’s roofs, but he compensated by sprawling in front of the projection screen as the set ended; finally becoming one with the Australian wildlife behind him.
It was awesome.