Concert Review: Mac DeMarco is their Jesus

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 - 8:28am

I am standing. I am sweating. Surrounded by cigarette-smoking, long-haired youth, the crowd sloshes around me closer and closer. The opening acts, The Courtneys and Alex Calder, prompt appreciative head bobbing and shivers of excitement throughout the audience. With each strum of the guitar or beat of the drum the crowd seems to inch forward, aiming for the closest possible point in space to the night’s main attraction — Mac DeMarco. As the lights finally dim and Mac makes his way onto the small stage, the energy of the crowd erupts. Hands, drinks and cheers are thrust into the air, unreservedly welcoming the goofy Canadian artist. He begins to play. I am standing, I am sweating and I am happy.

***

Mac DeMarco’s sound is jangly and unconventional and funny — just like his performance at The Crofoot in Pontiac, Mich. on Sunday night. Opening with “The Way You’d Love Her,” DeMarco had the crowd hooked from the first wavy vibration of his guitar. He touched on fan favorites like “Salad Days,” “Chamber of Reflection” and “Let Her Go” all while maintaining an off-the-cuff performance style. True to form, DeMarco would scream, use funny voices and improvise with his band throughout the set. The band members found themselves in various states of composition during the 17-song performance. Members of The Courtneys and Alex Calder backed DeMarco on different instruments; a few even flung themselves, per DeMarco’s nudging instruction, into the outstretched hands of the crowd to surf over the fans for an entire song.

DeMarco also stepped out of his generally swirling realm of musicality, covering “Reelin’ In The Years” by Steely Dan and “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. The latter, which constituted the encore, spanned ten-plus minutes and consisted of absolute insanity. “Enter Sandman” in and of itself is intense — heavily bass and percussion driven instrumentation coated in angry vocals. By this point in the show DeMarco, some of his bandmates and many members of the crowd were shirtless, sweaty visions of the people they were pre-gig. DeMarco was drinking on stage and screaming to the music. A new crowd-surfing fan was popping up every minute or so. There was a quasi-mosh pit going strong and band members were eagerly playing off of each other.

Fans may have initially been drawn in by DeMarco’s laid-back jangle sound, but what really makes him a great artist is his sense of self. As proven on Sunday night, DeMarco knows exactly who he is and what his art means to himself and to others. On the surface level, his performance was relaxed and spontaneous and fun. But in looking a little closer, it is clear that DeMarco lives and breathes his profession, that his performances are an extension of himself rather than a meticulously calculated production. He was on fire. The peak of his inferno occurred when he threw himself into the audience and crowd surfed his way to the edge of the crowd, climbed a support pole to the upper balcony and shuffled along the railing to meet the fans on the upper level. He then cheekily motioned to the mass below then jumped back into their waiting hands and hitched a ride to the stage.

DeMarco and his band’s performance was one of the most authentic and welcoming shows I have ever experienced. He never made the audience feel inferior, like he was the almighty artist and we were the unworthy fans. He was a young person hanging out with his friends and making music — a sentiment most youth can relate to in some shape or form. He did not concern himself with his procured image as an artist or his perfection in performance. He was a real person. And from what I saw on Sunday night, Mac DeMarco is exactly the kind of person I look forward to seeing again in the future.