After the recent release of This Old Dog, one expected Mac DeMarco’s set at Brixton on the 31st May to be a relatively promotional show, bookended with the occasional track from the ever popular Salad Days, however Mac delivered what was truly an enthralling live performance and left Brixton Academy that night in a state of sweat and vigour.
Mac delivered what was truly an enthralling live performance
What the casual Mac DeMarco listener rarely appreciates is Mac’s intriguing range of influences, indeed his biography on Apple Music and others seem to under-appreciate the subtlety of DeMarco’s work; in Mac’s case there is far more than meets the eye. Through recommending of the genius- Van Dyke Parks (Song Cycle) in a ‘What’s In Your Bag?’ video, to his selection of support acts, it is clear that Mac is hugely knowledgeable about the gems of the music industry. Once again Mac’s insight was clear when watching Kirin J Callinan waltz through an engaging, showstopping and frankly bizarre performance which had the audience confused yet somewhat allured. Kirin’s moody opera-esque vocals hugely contrasted against Mac’s softer and more embracing tones yet the Brixton audience welcomed this variety and progressively adapted to Callian as his set went on. This eccentric performance perfectly matched Mac’s energy as he sloped onto stage before proceeding to shake the foundations of the Brixton Academy building.
Launching immediately into crowd pleaser- ‘Salad Days’-, it was clear that Mac hadn’t become overtly commercial despite the dawning of his musical shift. Ditching reverb and surf rock, This Old Dog heavily favours synths and acoustic instruments as seen through Mac’s piano heavy rendition of the eponymous track; this provided a welcome break to the aggressive crowd moshing during ‘Salad Days’ and ‘The Stars Keep On Calling My Name’, settling the audience effectively. The behaviour of a crowd rarely matched the introspective yet collected vibe of DeMarco’s latest record, songs that seemed inconceivable to mosh to, such as ‘Ode To Viceroy’, were swept upon by the younger members of the audience. Given the skateboarding bent of the UK indie teen, it’s perhaps no surprise that we’re seeing crowds akin to that experienced at an Odd Future concert heading to experience Mac DeMarco in a far more physical manner than one could expect. As a relatively tall male who gyms (yes I gym), the obnoxious behaviour of some crowd members was nothing more than a trivial matter, however it is perhaps sad to see this distortion between the audience and Mac’s artistic themes. Nevertheless the set continued smoothly with particular early highlights including the surprise inclusion of ‘Rock And Roll Nightclub’- Mac’s first track on record.
Furthermore the reflective nakedness of ‘Dreams of Yesterday’ was magically performed with the audience eating out of Mac’s hand. As the set progressed, DeMarco proceeded to insert crowd favourite ‘My Kind Of Woman’ into the mix, following a hearty rendition of the promising ‘One More Love Song’. At this early stage of Mac’s album release, it’s unclear quite what the future holds for This Old Dog, while critical reception is often a good indicator (of which the album did well), audience reaction is also a key suggestion. Thus hearing many fans belting out Mac’s new choruses sparked genuine hope within me that This Old Dog will standout as Demarco’s finest work to date. After winding things down with ‘Chamber of Reflection’, there was still time for Mac and crew to get up to some mischievous antics which included the throwing and catching of guitars, half-nakedness and a lengthy crowd surf to cap things off.
It is clear that Mac is hugely knowledgeable about the gems of the music industry
All in all, the performance was impressive, especially given the Mac’s inexperience in performing many songs from his latest album, plaudits must partly be shared with Kirin Callinan who was truly intriguing (Give ‘Landslide’ a listen). What’s next for Mac, who knows? All I’m sure of though is that he’s constantly experimenting, and to great effect.