By Ian Bremner, Old Rookie
Photos by Nelson Accosta
The crowd seems fairly tame as I wait for Mac DeMarco to take the stage for the first of shows at Seattle’s Moore Theatre. Once the lights dim, however, young fans – who have been patiently waiting in their seats – immediately flood the aisles to get as close as they can to one of their heroes.
That’s probably no surprise – Demarco’s star has risen in recent years as he’s evolved from slacker rocker to full-blown indie star.
A hunched over Demarco waddles to the microphone to rapturous applause, says hello to the crowd, greets a few specific folks, tells everyone he’s feeling a little “feisty,” and then launches into one of his best-loved songs, “Salad Days.”
It is easy to understand why Demarco connects so strongly with his fan base. Though the Moore Theater is a spacious, triple-deckered room, the evening has a familial vibe, as if we’ve joined the LA-based musician and his bandmate buddies in their living room.
Everyone on stage seems sweet and funny, and plays off each other like a group of close-nit friends. There is no set list. Demarco asks the crowd for input on nearly everything. He does impressions of everything from Macho Man Randy Savage to Eddie Vedder to Prince. He and his guitar player reenact dialogue from Frasier and open gifts from people in the front row. He’s got the crowd in his absolute control, even when appears to have gone off the rails. Before the night ends, Demarco invites his photographer to sing a song, tosses a beer into the crowd and removes his shirt.
Some may say he’s got has a screw loose, but though his personality is highly meme-able, it’s clear he takes his music seriously and has genuine care for the people around him.
Musically, everything sounds great. The band rips through song after song with ample banter between each tune.
Fueling the house-party vibe, cans of PBR and a bottle of Jameson are close by. Demarco swigs both at free will, carrying the Jameson around for most of the show. Midway through the set it becomes clear the Jameson is taking hold. At one point Demarco invites his girlfriend, Kiera, who has her own cult following at this point, on stage. Seemingly use to Mac’s stunts, she reluctantly joins and they sit on the stage, campfire-style, to sing another hit, “My Kind of Woman.” Halfway through the song, Mac admits, “ok this is just disgusting now.”
The final “song” lasts nearly 20 minutes. It’s less of a “set closer” and more like a “Broadway on acid, stream-of-consciousness medley” wherein the band decides to play whatever comes to mind, on a whim, with Demarco oftentimes recreating the lyrics. It includes both Rage Against the Machine and “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.”
An artist known for this outward goofiness and rabidly devoted fans, this show was short on neither, resulting in a bizarrely soul-fulfilling experience.
Check out more from Ian on his blog Old Rookie. Follow him on Twitter at @_oldrookie.