Concert Review: Mac DeMarco
By: Drew Parrish
Gothic Theater Denver, CO
14 July 2014
In the wake of Mac DeMarco a problem has arisen in front of me. My job as reviewer is to embody the show as best of possible with words, to evoke the nuance inside the Gothic Theater that night in Denver, CO. But to do so is a puzzling task, because it was a show of manic energy, near acrobatics, medieval jokes, and homage to Neil Young. I have never seen more crowd surfing at a show or been more perplexed by a mosh pit than I was then. I think Mr. DeMarco might agree, after opening with the lethargic summer rock track Salad Days off the latest album of the same name, he stated before the third song, “This one’s a slower one, but you can keep moshing”.
The crowd obliged by creating a mosh pit with far more friction than pushing, and filled it with slightly too much adolescence and alcohol. Body after body was held aloft with outstretched arms, and passed about, as Mac and his band progressed through crowd favorites such as “Ode to Viceroy” and “Rock and Roll Nightclub.” It was a perplexing to me; my only experience crowd surfing was at the apex of delirious energy during a Wolfmother show. I was quickly passed to the front, pulled down by security, and pushed into a dark, snowy alley. I saw about four songs that night, each one whipped me into a deafening and gleeful aggression. Mac DeMarco sounded nothing like that, which is why I struggled to comprehend the crowd behavior at first.
Mac DeMarco manages to capture a tone on his guitar that seems to embody his gap-toothed smile. You can’t help but notice it, and be drawn to its sound, yet charmed by its quirk. His riffs unfold bathed in lethargy, yet never lose a tone of jangled precision. They are washed in with warm Canadian psychadelia by the guitar, bass, and simplified drum kit that accompany him. Truthfully, I just coined the term Canadian psychadelia, I don’t think it is a widely recognized movement, but if it ever is I hope it is used to describe carefree contentedness that Mac DeMarco’s music teaches us and allows us to feel. In the song “Cooking Up Something Good” he described being the underachiever of his family and sang “when life moves this slowly/ just try and let it go” all in the sonic environment of a spritely guitar riff and a wandering rhythm. I have been traveling recently and met a good number of Canadians along the way. Now, I don’t like to stereotype, but our northern neighbors seemed to have figured out a formula to a simple and unadorned happiness. DeMarco drained the Gothic Theater of pretention and vane sensitivity, and that is certainly something to mosh and crowd surf about.
Mac DeMarco’s shirt was baggy and dull, and he tucked it in. If anybody has a father anything like mine, then they can manage a sly grin of appreciation at a tucked in shirt. Its functional, and probably had a few ladies rethinking their fashion convictions as he inquired about fun house party after the show. The shirt stayed tucked throughout the show and the closing song “Still Together” and was still tucked in after he flipped into the crowd and surfed it. They passed him over to the balcony at which point he climbed up, handed out high fives and hugs and fell off backwards into the exhilarated crowd. Still the shirt remained tucked, as if resolutely committed to the selfless version of fun Mac DeMarco is currently touring around the world.
Also, just so you’re aware: All good Canadians kneel for Neil Young. This I learned when the band rocked a cover Young’s “Unknown Legend” as their encore, and made the entire crowd take a respectful knee.