Blood, sweat and sneers: Mac DeMarco’s Montreal show proves he really is the new face of slacker rock

April 9, 2014     / / / /

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By David Bradford

The set list is a whopping blur now. I mean, I don’t remember the last time someone inserted “suck my dick” into the jam-out section of one of their signature songs, which sure felt new to me. I’d like to say the song was The Stars Keep Calling My Name, but maybe that’s just waxed poetics.

In fact, a lot about Mac Demarco’s show at the SAT on Sunday left me a little reeling and wild. I hadn’t been to a show in a while and I hadn’t listened to the new record yet, save for a few singles. That’s a weird, fortunate bit of serendipity, if you’ve never experienced it before. I’m hoping that’ll ensure the show stays etched past my ear lobes for the foreseeable future, because it was a gateway drug kind of show, one that’ll have me stalking more venues for that sweet feeling going forward.

There’s something about Mac’s stage persona that has me a little enamoured, recollecting now. Something boyishly, giddily wreckless, all while rocking out with twangy, wiry smoothness. He sounds so hermetic and tight on the records, but he’s so frothy and just plain loud in person. He’s a top-notch fuck-it kind of songster, emblazoned in all of the hep-cat detachments. And the band is just as mussy as he looks, but they all just pound along with the nimblest of fingers and voices, drenching the SAT walls and faces. Mac follows suit, of course, and occupies time between breaths and guitar licks just grinningly kicking crowd surfers off the stage, foot to the rear, one by one. People just wanna get close and share their ass, kiss him, but he don’t give a care, so it seems. The guys play on regardless, scintillating.

But it’s his stage nonetheless. And early on there were so many invasive little dudes and dudettes trying to relive the grunge era that he ended up having to get his hands on one of them to pry him off and push him back into the crowd. This is when he lost his MTV ball cap, and we got to see that other bit of him looming in the background. Mac continually seems like he might want to break someone’s back, though he’ll wag the urge off with that sweet smile. The hat thing, however, had him ready to flip. No more twang and levity, for a bit. He looked like he might have a shit-fit.

Of course, this is what prompted the “suck my dick” shriek, and it even garnered an improvised “GIVE IT BACK” little melody. Some little guy or girl just desperately wanted to hold onto the memento, just as I’m sure Mac wanted to hold onto those golden MTV years now a couple of decades behind us. Predating him completely, really.

No surprise, he got it back, and it seemed clear some kind of line existed for him: the good time we’d have was his to dole out, and we were gonna like it. He most certainly sold it to us proper. He railed on, kept laughing his toothy laugh and kicking him and her off the stage. The new record is so great.

And when, after a bit of his own crowd surfing—over the glowing reverie of Chamber of Reflection—the band came out for an encore, he wooed every single one of us, almost against our will. He and the band started in on Neil Young’s Unknown Legend and, a few verses in, he screamed for every last one of us to “fucking kneel” and sing a verse of Neil’s, an imperative. And everyone did, absolutely everyone, never so giddy about a sticky floor. We sang and it was damn good. And he shouted for us to all spring up again, to jam out with band. Have some fun. And Mac Demarco was king, just then, and he knew it.

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Photo by our friends over at Forget the Box.

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