A modest rain fluttered over Stanley Park’s Malkin Bowl. The monitors and microphones had been pulled back slightly to avoid the oncoming moisture. Mac Demarco, a homegrown BC talent, addressed his buzzing, sold out audience: “maybe we’ll get electrified tonight but at least we are in Vancouver.”
East Van, Vancouver gone Brooklyn, New York, Mac DeMarco has found burgeoning success with a new generation of energetic youth by appealing to their underlaying inertia. DeMarco’s focus on soft, swirling melodies and gentle, phasing tones absence of a heavy driving bass or guitar.
The show’s highly spirited were a defining characteristic of the evening. Apparently, crowd surfing is central to the Mac DeMarco experience. It didn’t take long for the chaos to boil over and crush the safety fence at the front of the stage; that happened halfway through the second song. The crowd’s turbulence persisted throughout the evening, a something hilarious behaviour on spacey songs such as “Ode to Viceroy.”
Mac DeMarco’s childish character is counterbalanced by his exquisite atmospheres and gorgeous instrumentation. DeMarco songs, driven by subtle, wide, shadowy bass and tight, snappy drums, are far more intricate than they might seem on first listen. The twinkling guitar of “My Kind of Woman” blended with DeMarco’s low-key, lower toned voice in the wet, darkening evening air. If someone were listening to the concert out of earshot, they might be surprised at the contrast of the milder pop numbers and the conduct of the audience.
The man is certainly an enigma; DeMarco presents himself with limitless confidence; his supporting band, which includes another local, West-Vancouver born drummer Joe McMurray, also bounds with the ridiculous and sometimes low key comedy. Flowing with a pleasant, ironic ebb, the current, the gentle synth tones of “Chamber of Reflection” demonstrate a clever, more agile evolution of Washed Out’s “Feel It All Around.” The amphitheatre evergreen of the Malkin Bowl, a gorgeous, natural venue in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, made the material all the more memorable. Stretching his vocal chords on the endearing “Still Together,” perhaps the fifth song of the night introduced as a “love song.”
Splitting off further into musical absurdity, Mac DeMarco lead his band through a meandering rendition of “Henry the VIII” by Herman’s Hermits, introduced as a song about a hermit. Few of the millennial in attendance likely understood the frankly absurd reference and musical re-imagination, but that didn’t stop the mosh pit. Speaking with a calm measured voice, DeMarco introduced the final song of the evening, allegedly the title track of their forthcoming record. “This next song is called Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavoured Water,” voiced DeMarco a mere moment before the band rocketed into the main riff of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” The extended jam allowed Mac to leap into the swirling audience and crowd surf upon his excited fandom.
DeMarco is an artist of many contradictions; his compositions are mellow, yet uplifting, ridiculous yet contemplative and somehow always overflowing with energy. His sarcastic attitude and abstract outlook is intoxicating in presence as he is a living definition of unconventional. Demarco crafts a style of music that is intuitive but somehow unpredictable, except for the moshing. Expect lots of moshing….