“We’re gonna play some songs, hang out—it’ll be good,” said Mac Demarco, wry smile firmly planted in cheek. His trademark aw-shucks hi jinks are only a ruse. Behind the laid-back Canadian shtick is a dude that’s dead serious about wailing, crooning, and—more than anything—having fun.
On Tuesday night at the Fillmore, Mac unveiled his spectrum of tricks to a sold-out crowd that ping-ponged his feisty energy. Rocking his signature normcore—camo overalls with only one-strap—he kicked things off with “Salad Days,” one of the standout tracks from the new, eponymous record. Bassist Pierce Garry and guitarist Andy White confused the crowd in matching dresses. A classic misdirection—soon, they’d steal the show.
After the first song, Mac showed one nipple to the crowd. “Don’t worry, we’ll have more time for that later,” he said.
Soon after, he turned up a bit too much, literally. Before he could get to the verse of “The Stars Keep Calling My Name,” he broke a string. Instead of going to his reserves—he didn’t have a backup guitar—he simply sat on the stage and restrung his axe. Meanwhile, Pierce entertained the crowd with a playful (and surprisingly soulful) take on Coldplay’s “Yellow.”
Once Mac restrung, the show ambled on. One of the early highlights was “Cooking Up Something Good” from his debut album 2, a jam where he made liberal use of the whammy bar. His guitar lines are unmistakable—bright, funky, and always slightly askew.
Initially, the mix was a bit off. The vocals were buried beneath bass notes and sheets of guitar noise. As the night progressed, the mix got cleaner as the band got dirtier. Since the albums sound so lush and almost hushed—headphone friendly—the ample crowd surfing and stage diving came as a welcomed surprise. These hipsters were hyped. This was not your average school night.
After they wrapped up “Brother,” where Mac put down the guitar and played the keys, the band went into an extended reggae-ish jam. The lights went to a red-yellow-green Rasta scheme. Mac picked the guitar back up in Lothario mode, and invited a fan onstage to sing Bob Marley.
Sort of. He brought a girl onstage with a come-hither look and asked her to sing the phrase “we’re jamming.” Bashful at first, the girl soon loosed up and started belting it. While she wasn’t aided by auto-tune, there was an echo effect that drenched the vocals, making even an awkward line sound dope. Before she could go back to her friends, Mac made her stage dive—reluctant at first, she soon gleefully took the plunge.
To close the set, Mac and the boys launched into a psychedelic cover of “Reeling in the Years.” Maybe it was the venue, but Mac seemed to channel the spirit of Jerry throughout the solo. The scales and rhythms were eerily reminiscent of the Dead.
After peeking out from behind the curtain several times, Mac came out for two encores. The first was a searing rendition of the Top Gun theme. Essentially an anthem of only a few notes, Mac used this as the centerpiece for a guitar workout. He amped up the rhythm to breakneck speeds, and then slowed it down to really flex his guitar hero muscles. Somewhere in there, he did a front-flip into the crowd and crowd surfed to the bar at the back of the room before making his way back to the stage.
To sign off, Mac tore into “Enter Sandman,” lightening it while making it weirder. In his hands, it somehow didn’t feel like a cliché.
It was both campy and completely earnest—the paradox of Mac in a nutshell. This is a dude who can make dick jokes, mutter sweet nothings between songs, and shred your face off. He’s a Mac of all trades.