Mac DeMarco, the New York based Canadian singer, journeyed down to Birmingham last week for one of the last legs of his European tour. Promoting his newly released mini-LP ‘Another One’ (August 2015), Mac’s debut performance at the Institute – and the legend of his often wild and messy shows – had the joint packed from the minute the doors opened. Cementing his position as the latest cult king of slacker rock, the crowd of dungaree donning youths squeezed in as tight as they possibly could, all blindly following the long road to Mac Damascus.
Opening for Mac was Dinner [3/10], a hot new dish from Denmark that a few of us are still desperately trying to swallow. Armed with a storm-trooper-esque guitar (which seemed to make little to no noise compared to his blaring backing track), his interactions with the crowd were strange to say the least, even stating that one of his songs he’d played the gig before had “fucked up completely”.
Despite the one-man band literally being called Dinner, his performance was certainly not the main course. We might as well have been watching Elton John eat soggy, glitter-covered cornflakes in a Joy Division t-shirt from urban outfitters – it really was that much of a hot, disturbing, synth pop mess.
On the contrary, Mac DeMarco [8/10] absolutely smashed it. As soon as the man-child stepped on stage, the atmosphere of the crowd dramatically kicked up. Beginning the set near the front of the stage, by the end of the first track – the new ‘`The Way You’d Love Her’ – I’d been floored, taken a few pints to the face and relegated to the sound desk to hang with the dads of Mac’s uber fans. Switching between the new release and his past two records (2 & Salad Days), every song went down a treat – although it felt like the audience were less thrilled, or acquainted with, the tracks off ‘Another One’ compared to some of Mac’s earlier bangers such as ‘Chamber of Reflection’ and ‘Cooking Up Something Good’. As he counted in each song, the swarm screamed and vied for Mac’s attention – one overzealous fan-boy even burning his own hair in an attempt to fervently light up a cigarette during Mac’s own Ode to Viceroy (a tribute to Demarco’s favourite brand of cigarette). The smell of sweat, shame, and burnt hair lingered throughout, before the typical warble of Mac’s guitar took over the senses once again.
The band closed with “Still Together” – a heartfelt love song about Mac’s college sweetheart. A tribute to his lost love only meant one thing for Mac: crowd-surf time. Giving himself a run-up, Mac flew in as per usual, but after three minutes lost in all those vintage sweaters and badges, his band were left bewildered and slightly worried – humbly requesting that he be brought back. Presumably tired from all the groping and the fatigue of a long tour, as Mac was returned to stage he decided to wrap up the night. Even without an encore and their usual collection of ramshackle covers, I dare say no one in the crowd went home with less than they bargained for – except for maybe that dude with a few less locks of hair and another viceroy hanging from his lips.
(Photos by Kimberly Irving)