MUST BE ANOTHER ONE: MAC DEMARCO’S LATEST SHOW
A few Sundays ago was one I had been waiting for since Levitation back in May. The festival had a lineup that was solid as a rock. I was not too familiar with the music Mac DeMarco at that time, but I was intrigued by what I heard about him and I wanted to learn more about him. Mac and his band of equal talent, and humor for that matter, played a set on Sunday around 5pm. Mind you the meteorologists in Austin were predicting a tornado around the time they started play. DeMarco was sure to capitalize on this forecast to provide the sense of humor that we, the fans, would soon realize he had. His show lasted nearly an hour and a half. A clear memory I have of his set was right before he was about to begin playing. He waved to the crowd, introduced the band and then proceeded to say “I have to go to the restroom really bad, I’ll be right back.” I am not entirely sure on how true this statement was, I understand that everyone uses the restroom, but it was possible that he wanted to add anticipation to make his show that much better. Fast forward a week or so. I suddenly get excited over something I see and send a link of a quick announcement that Warehouse Live made. This group of guys are finally coming back to Houston, they played Fitzgerald’s a while ago, but I was not very familiar with the band at this point, but none of that mattered. I was going to be able to see one of my favorite acts of that weekend, and I didn’t have to venture out to Austin either. Needless to say, I was excited.
Alright, so now back to last weekend. I am about to head out to the venue, I’m asking my group when they’re going to arrive and I’m also thinking of what to wear. It’s not like I went out of my way to look like a teen fan who bought their wardrobe and his “vinyls” at Urban Outfitters before the show, but I didn’t want to look out of place. I finally decided that a white shirt, jeans and red vans would work. For those that don’t know, Mac popularized the red vans, at least in my opinion. I was fortunate enough to get a good spot with some of my friends that went. The show was sold out for quite some time, so I knew that fans would be there lined up for quite a while. When we step inside the club, we bolt to the stage as fast as we can. The tech is playing obscure music while the plethora of people wait for the opener, Walter TV, to begin.
I was not familiar with the music of Walter TV. I knew that the group consisted of members of Mac’s band Pierce the Bassist and Joe the Drummer. To my surprise, Andy, the guitarist recently joined the group. I can assure you that there were a handful of confused fans in the crowd that were waiting for Mac to come out. We were in for a surprise. Pierce was the main vocalist and he played guitar instead of bass while Andy played the guitar. This was switch that I didn’t know. If you closed your eyes, it wouldn’t be too hard to pretend like you were at the Vans Warped Tour waiting for a hardcore band to begin. The vocals were shouted while loaded down with a phaser. A sound I would expect Brian Wilson would make if he were very upset at something. The band was good, they had the same presence as the band would with Mac. The fact that the vocals were so muffled added more effect to the instrumentation, it seems like this is the side project that the band can try their hand at something different, something that they can’t really do as Mac DeMarco. They were definitely the surprise of the evening. They even ended their set with a distorted, phased out version of “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction.
Alex Calder was up next and I had no idea what to expect for this group either. The only thing I knew about Calder was that he was in an old band with DeMarco entitled Makeout Videotape. This was enough to pique my interest with an open mind for his set. Now, this was not my favorite show i’ve seen. It was not bad, it just wasn’t my cup of tea, and that’s something that everyone differs in opinions over. Alex Calder and his band played for nearly an hour as well as Walter TV. I couldn’t help but notice that Calder has a routine, after every song he would say “thanks, guys,” cough, and then drink some beer. I kept coming back to comparing his voice, and some of the backing band, to Pavement. It had the same “here’s what what we do, now enjoy it” attitude. It was obvious why this band joined the tour. They’re similar to DeMarco in so many ways. They’re from the same area, they look similar and they share certain aspects with the music.
The time had finally came and you could feel that in the packed crowd. I had a feeling that this was the first concert for many of the younger audience, they had a semicircle around the merch line, the kids were getting ready to scream at the top of their lungs while simultaneously preparing for their lengthy broadcast of the concert via Snapchat. The tech began to mute the background music, the lights began to dim. Oh, I was so ready. We were all ready for this show. The music gets turned back up, what happened? This situation recurred multiple times. We were finally starting to remember that this would not be a Mac DeMarco show with some form of anticipation, but this next time was different. The music stayed off and this group of four guys entered the stage. Before he went on, a woman next to me shouted “where is the homeless white boy?” This is something that I’m sure Mac hears quite often due to his persona that appears in all the interviews you can find of him.
There was no room for the crowd to move. You couldn’t move a couple of inches without bumping shoulders into someone else, at least this was the case in the first few rows. “Hi, I’m Mac, that’s pierce, that’s Andy and that’s Joe” was enough to cause a rippling domino effect. The crowd moved at least five feet toward center stage. The band began the set with Rock and Roll Nightclub, a wise choice to open with, in my opinion. It fits while playing in venues compared to festivals. There was an undeniable connection with fans and the band that was unlike ones I’ve seen in a long time. Many people in the crowd knew every word to every song, and they weren’t afraid to show it. At one point in the show DeMarco told the crowd to unwind a little and dance to the next track, The Stars Keep Calling My Name. I thoroughly enjoyed the show. During “Still Together,” DeMarco did his routine crowd surf. He had picked a spot, pointed in the direction and took off. From my point of view, it looked like a safe and sound spot, however I did not see the sea of iPhones that were broadcasting the jump. Mac went straight down to the ground and waited for security to help him up. Being a true musician he toughed it out and gave it another go. I’m sure he thought the crowd learned from their mistake and was ready to carry the Canadian all around the venue. Once he jumped off the barricade he was put back into the same situation: on the ground and bruised up along with his ripped shirt. Besides the mishap, the song was still great. This was supposedly the final song for the evening. Once it was over, a substantial number of the crowd bolted to the exit. A few minutes later the band reappeared, picking up their instruments the band was ready to encore. I was pretty shocked over this. I thought to myself “they’ve played all the ones they usually do, I wonder if they’re doing a rarity?” To my shock the distortion turned to eleven and the vocals were pounding. They did a version of Enter Sandman by Metallica. Now, me not being the biggest fan of the biggest of the big four, I didn’t think too much of it. It sounded fun and the crowd was into it, but if it was something like Symphony of Destruction, I would be the first one ready to mosh. I was very glad I was at the show and I can genuinely say that I’m excited to see him again.
Whether or not people think a band has “sold out” is irrelevant, for the most part. I say this because people label this band as such and such and assume his show is going to go a certain way because of how the band portrays themselves, these laid-back boys from Canada who enjoy their humor, synths and Simpsons. I can assure you that there were many surprises throughout the evening that made the whole show that much more enjoyable. I can only see this band getting bigger and bigger each time they come around to town. Who’s to doubt that Mac DeMarco might play the Toyota Center in a couple of years? In the end, he’s our generation’s Billy Joel, if you think about it enough.