The Many Faces of Mac DeMarco: ACL Taping + Mohawk Show (2/27+28)

Mac DeMarco has become a household name in the indie rock world– synonymous with silly antics and overall shenanigans he’s done quite well for himself by gaining a cult following. The folks over at ACL got word and decided to have him and his band on to tape an episode for the upcoming season. Mac decided to take this opportunity to dial down the antics and rock’n’roll to generate a more approachable sound for the setting. Not to worry–his victory lap show at the Mohawk brought all that you’d expect from the gentleman; a nearly three hour set with crowd surfing, stage climbing and chaos. Read on to hear my brief thoughts on these two very different evenings and see some lovely photos from the taping from Maggie Boyd.

Having seen Mac DeMarco at several festivals and on his own over the year, I went into Tuesday night thinking I’d already seen the show that was about to happen. This was by no means negative– I just anticipated a wild and crazy night of the hits and general clownery from Mac and his band. After all, that’s pretty much their brand. While I waited for the show to start, I looked around the stage to find a Michael Jackson mask with glowing eyes, various dolls arranged in different tableaus with assorted fake fruit and cakes. Topping all these off were fake flowers interspersed between the instruments and fake candlesticks–this was going to be a classy night.

Mac and crew took the stage and let us know right away that this was going to be a special night, that they were going to try and play their songs smooth and gently, which immediately made me a little nervous, as half the draw of the live set is the antics. However, by toning down the spectacle and letting the music resound the loudest, we were forced to really appreciate just how good the songs are– the set was Steely Dan jam band for sure, but it fit the tracks and had my full attention.

While the set was definitely a one of kind night in terms of the delicateness in which the band played their new and old material, between songs, we got our typical Mac. He sipped red wine from plastic flutes, offered his crowd a powdered Parmesan Cheese communion of sorts, and passed out chunks of the pound cake on stage. He sang Happy Birthday on request to someones brother in the audience. He invited two kids on stage who made a sign asking to play with him. There may not have been any crowd surfing or stage dives, but what we got was mellow Mac, which was still altogether hilarious and a joy to watch. At the end of the set, during the last track, “Together,” drummer Joe took center stage to bust out a singalong to RHCP’s “Under The Bridge Downtown,” which was icing on the silly set.

I left the show quite pleased–Mac DeMarco adapted to his setting without completely changing his style or losing the core of his sound.

The next night, at his victory lap show at The Mohawk– we got Mac in his truest form. We got all the hits, the old favorites, plenty of smoking on stage, hefty pulls from a bottle of Jameson, crowd surfing, forty minutes worth of cover songs ranging from Radiohead’s “High and Dry” to Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” and The Beatles, “Blackbird” and “Daytripper.” Mac climbed the rafters, shirtless, in order to give his girlfriend Kiki a kiss; he crowdsurfed to the back of the Mohawk and climbed up onto the upstairs railing to watch his band jam it out.

My point is this–Mac may be goofy, but he’s far from stupid. He played to his strengths on both evenings, catering to vastly different crowds without losing his aesthetic or flair. Be sure to catch Mac DeMarco next time he’s in town and keep your eyes peeled for when this episode of ACL TV airs.

Happy to have Maggie Boyd join us again and cover for BGray (down with the sickness).

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