Tag Archives: Mac DeMarco

Mac DeMarco, Montero at Barrowlands, 24/11/17

On this dreich Friday evening, with the Gallowgate enveloped in black ice, I arrive early at the Barrowlands amidst a sea of skip hats.

Opening tonight for Mac DeMarco is psychedelic-pop wizard Ben Montero and band.

They quickly break into their first song abound with lush, Beach Boy-esque harmonies and jangly guitars.

The band see fit to remove their wooly hats, as they quite literally warm into their set; a well-paced and talented display of zig-zagging synths, and boundless enthusiasm from frontman Montero.

The band introduces their latest single ‘Vibrations’, and it becomes clear that the early-to-arrive crowd have been waiting for this song.

With its glam-rock influences and anthemic chorus, Montero’s eccentrism is on full display.

This is followed by the percussive crowd-pleaser ‘Pilot’, which nicely rounds off their set.

The ballroom has steadily filled up with Mac DeMarco’s white-socked disciples, awaiting the arrival of their slacker-pop messiah.

The band arrives on stage one-by-one and DeMarco is last to arrive, wearing a “see you Jimmy” hat and clasping a bottle of Buckfast.

The tone for tonight’s show has been set.

The band open with ‘On The Level’, a synth-heavy slow-groover from 2017’s This Old Dog, a slight departure from the trademark sunny, lo-fi guitar sound of DeMarco’s past records, however it’s not long before the guitar comes out and the familiar riff of the ever-popular ‘Salad Days’ ensues, the crowd is now jumping as chants of “la la la la-la” reverberate around the room.

A unidentified, inflatable object is lobbed into the crowd – a reoccurring theme of tonight’s gig, I soon discover, is low-flying items being thrown back and forth from the stage to the crowd; I’m now beginning to think that maybe the abundance of headwear in the room was less an aesthetic choice, and more a practical one.

As expected, there’s plenty of newer material on show tonight from This Old Dog, that being said, DeMarco strikes an ideal balance between serenading fans with new tracks whilst throwing in old favorites such as ‘Cooking Up Something Good, ‘Ode to Viceroy, ‘Let Her Go’ and ‘Freaking out the Neighbourhood’.

Guitarist Andy Craig’s guitar chops get a good airing throughout, particularly on the new album’s title track in which his dreamy slide guitar solo brings the room to a quiet standstill.

Meanwhile, DeMarco’s underestimated vocal abilities shine on slower, more schmaltzy tracks like ‘For The First Time’ and ‘One More Love Song’, and despite his goofy on-stage persona and dad dancing throughout, there’s a definite maturity to his lyrical offerings.

Having said that, things get a little hairy towards the end of the set, when drummer Joe McMurray takes centre stage to perform The RHCP’s ‘Under The Bridge’, with DeMarco taking his place at the drum kit.

There’s no encore as such, but the band do perform a semi-structured “jam” of sorts, featuring a cover of The Proclaimers’ ‘Over and Done With’ as well as The La’s ‘There She Goes’, sandwiched between bit parts of ‘Day Tripper’, ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, and some Herman’s Hermits for good measure.

Despite the cacophony that’s erupted on stage, the crowd sings along to every word.

It’s clear that there’s a lot of love in this room tonight, and it may be the Buckfast, or DeMarco’s awkward charm, regardless, I get the feeling we’ll be seeing This Old Dog back on Barras soil again very soon.

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Words: Amanda Johnston
Photos: Stewart Fullerton

Mac DeMarco, Dinner at O2 ABC, 7/9/15

Imagine the O2 ABC packed with devoted fans waiting to see Mac DeMarco; a musical cult figure whose influence is evidently so far reaching that many members of the crowd appear to be imitating his trademark style of dress.

If you then imagine dramatic red lighting, reverb effects, and what might happen if Soft Cell were to enter next year’s Eurovision, you might understand why Dinner seem a bit of an unusual pick for tonight’s support act.

However this unusual pairing proves its worth, and the audience are more than obliging when he requests that they “move their bodies with him”,

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Over the years we have come to expect the unexpected from Mac DeMarco, a trait which makes him an exciting live performer, and it’s safe to say that from the off the set features a few surprising elements.

For instance when Demarco heads offstage to deal with a broken guitar string, a casualty of opening number The Way You’d Love Her’, his band spontaneously break out into a rendition of Red Hot Chilli Peppers anthem ‘Under the Bridge’, much to everyone’s amusement and enjoyment.

Then there comes a moment when DeMarco sends Jon Lent into the audience, demanding that they “be gentle” as his keyboard player is passed around at head height.

The band are most definitely worth a mention; through instrumental sections, which are both powerful and intricate, exhibit an incredible level of skill and are clearly an important part of the singer’s musical process rather than simply a backing band.

The set is a fan-pleasing mix of tracks from across each of his albums, although he does play the bulk of his latest release Another One.

Despite the fact that the nature of this record is fundamentally different to his older music, and demonstrates a step into a more relaxed, quieter territory, he ingeniously reimagines these tracks for a live setting by placing driving drum rhythms and electric riffs behind the familiar melodies and lyrics.

Demarco is so in control of the crowd that even an obviously jokey “that was the last song” causes a bit of an uproar.

Thankfully he plays on, finishing with a soaring version of ‘Still Together’ before nipping off for the encore, which is a masterclass in explosive sound laden with heavy rock, and even includes an unsuccessful stage dive on DeMarco’s part, which he remarkably manages to pull off – think the opening scenes of School of Rock but infinitely cooler.

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Words: Ellen Renton
Photos: Elina Lin

Primavera Sound 2015 (Saturday)

Dashing down at the relatively early 6.30pm and predictably missing tickets for The Vaselines set at the Hidden Stage, I more than happily make do with the wonderous dreamy waves of DIIV, who create a delighting melodic lull in the early evening sunshine and sea air.

Fucked Up play early on the Saturday evening on the fairly large ATP stage; they’re competing with some big hitters (and also a Barcelona Coppa del Rey final), but still manage to draw a solid crowd.

The band experience some audio difficulties and to be honest the sound quality across the set is pretty terrible; having so many musicians on stage really does them more damage than good.

I would suggest the setting just simply doesn’t suit them, as any time I’ve caught them in smaller venues it’s always been great.

I also catch the rays at the ATP stage with Fucked Up and while Damien Abraham still cuts one of the most engaging frontmen you’ll see in Barcelona this year, the set does seem to lose some of its edge when removed from a sweaty basement.

The last Earth Song trek of the weekend sees me back at the Heineken stage for what will go down as another in a long line of truly entertaining Mac DeMarco shows, the last time we caught the set capitulated into Metallica covers, as we arrive this time he’s broke a string and Lord Flashheart come Keith Lemon looking guitarist is Andrew Charles White is teasing the crowd with banter about how good Moby is before breaking into a surfed out, occasionally screamed cover of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’; an entertaining start to say the least.

As the set continues we’re treated to some of Mac’s fun filled, lo-fi stoner indie, which ends with him throwing himself into the crowd-surfing for an extended period of time and the massive crowd just lap everything up; this guy is getting huge and he’s having fun doing it.

Moving back down to the food court to catch some of the football, which has the city filled with as many Bilbao fans as it does festival goers, we find Barcelona ahead and set on course to win the second trophy of what will be a treble, however back with the music and Sleaford Mods are on at the adidas Originals.

The Nottingham duo is sharp and sneery and vocalist Jason Williamson produces the kind of snarly social commentary that Mark E. Smith would be proud of, while banter like “this song’s for all the wankers” pushes it out even further.

All of this comes on top of Andrew Fearn’s, who seems to only lean over to press the occasional form time to time, electro-punk blasts; it’s unsettling, explosive, truly engaging and Steve Albini will later call anyone who doesn’t believe they’re “the best band ever” wrong – praise from high places indeed.

Following the Mods are New Zealand psychedelic and experimental pop merchants Unknown Mortal Orchestra, but their set seems to drift too much and doesn’t quite catch the same charms as their innovative new record, II.

So, ditching UMO early to catch the whole of MOURN at the Pitchfork stage, I’m unsure of what to expect; I’d listened to a couple of their songs and enjoyed the powerful echoing sound of what I’d heard, but little did I know they are all in their teens and fronted by a couple of Spanish sisters, but regardless of youth, these guys pull off their performance with effortless ease, and although I am pretty distracted for the majority of their set, what I do take in is enough to make me keen to hear more.

The last time I saw The Strokes it was Gig on The Green 2003, at the height of their Is This It power and arguably the peak of their career.

Seeing them now is a whole different story; the sound is awful, singer Julian Casablancas has a really horrendous effect on his mic (and a very bizarre haircut/outfit) and the band look completely disinterested in a) being there or b) how they actually sound; by far the biggest disappointment of the weekend.

Choosing not to make the trek over for The Strokes, which in hindsight seems a good decision, I hung back for the enlightening estranged pop of tUnE-yArDs, whose wistful and exuberant genre subverting pop is enough to inject a movement into anyone, what movement is generally anybody’s guess, but Merril Garbus is as commanding a focal point as ever and her afro tinged tunes definitely plasters a smile on your face before Albini and co. hit you with a full on anger tirade.

If you’ve never heard or seen footage of Dan Deacon playing I strongly recommend you check it out.

Even if his brand of weird hyper-pop isn’t for you, his live shows are always something to behold, usually due to the mass participation of his audience; with ‘dance pits’, crowd surfers and inflatable objects is all part of his normal set-up; the audience always absolutely love it.

Shellac are playing the adidas Originals stage; yes they play every year and this year I even considered not seeing them in favour of Dan Deacon and Thee Oh Sees, but the fact they are playing the smallest stage they could possibly have been put on has me eager enough to scrap these plans and let the trio overwhelm me once more.

They never fail, they’re sharp on point and effortless in their clinical execution; they’re also engaging outside of their songs too, Bob Weston doesn’t try his Q+A on the potentially Spanish speaking audience, but there’s enough amusement in their banter and power in their performance that I’m sure I’ll be seeing them here again.

Following Shellac’s onslaught I venture up onto the grass of the ATP stage for what remains of Thee Oh Sees, however they don’t seem to pack all the punches I remember them having a few years back and while their set seems as trippy as ever, it doesn’t seem to contain the same punk eruption that the band possessed a few years prior.

I venture to the Bowers & Wilkins Soundsystem area where John Talabot plays a surprise set, for which there is a queue that looks a mile long outside (and some chancing their arm by jumping over the wall to get in!).

Again, Talbot is fairly unfamiliar to me but his hour-and-a-half long set of disco/dance material is a wonderful way to sign out for the last evening.

Did I mention it turned my birthday at midnight? At that point MOURN had just came off stage, but it wasn’t until around 3am before the start of Caribou’s set at the wonderful Ray-Ban stage that I finally encounter the people I came here with; so before Caribou entrances us with some electronic gems they indulge in a little birthday sing-along, which in turn prompts a bunch of Spanish people to do the same for their pal, before we all get lost in a mass of bodies for Caribou’s wonderous liquid pop, while swigging straight gin (absolutely rotten) as the bar’s ran out of mixer.

This isn’t the end though, we all know how Primavera ends; it ends with DJ Coco!

And yes Coco, delivers all the fun expected with a set packed with sing-along favourites, that range from this year’s charts to 70s punk to 90s hip-hop to well… the ever questionable decision to always close on Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’; still it’s non stop fun and as we continue the party outside and then to the beach it’s yet another memorable year at Primavera.

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Mac DeMarco, TONSTARTSSBANDHT at The Arches, 20/5/14

At last year’s Stag & Dagger Mac DeMarco played to an eager crowd in a packed out Broadcast, he was the hot ticket that year, which made tonight’s gig all the more surprising when it was announced as being in Mono.

Maybe the organises weren’t convinced by Mac’s massively acclaimed new album, Salad Days, but pretty much as soon as this was announced it was clear the demand was there, and if The Arches isn’t sold out tonight it isn’t far off.

Opening proceedings is New York based brothers TONSTARTSSBANDHT, a drum and guitar duo that bring some interesting elements to set that at times doesn’t float all that well with a good times vibes the crowd are looking for.

There’s some hefty guitar wielding and a few awkward moments when the frontman ducks to play with pedals for an extended time leaving those further back unsure whether they’ve left the stage or not, but all in they don’t leave too bad a taste there’s plenty of fun elements, their reverb drenched harmonies are engulfing at times but there’s all to many people that aren’t up for their brand of noise pop tonight.

Mac DeMarco is a different beast altogether and the chirpy Canadian along with his bandmates emit waves of sunkissed joy over the crowd, albeit a little to quiet for my liking, but questionable sound is taken as a given when seeing a guitar band in The Arches.

Still, the band are full of banter and their affected sound still hits all the right spots to put a spring in your step and a smile on your face, as they mix tracks mainly from DeMarco’s two full-lengths to date.

It’s all surfy sundrenched sing-alongs, DeMarco’s BC home is generally sunnier than Scotland but not necessarily known for it’s warm climate, and catchy stoner alt pop, these guys are instantly likable and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see them step up a venue for the next visit.

As the crowd gets washed over in waves of reverb and DeMarco launches himself into the crowd you think you’ve got the ideal gig for escaping Glasgow’s unpredictable outside, but thrown in a cover of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ for good measure and you’ve got that touch of nostalgia that just makes for more than just a fun Tuesday night.

See you at the Barras guys.

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Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Daphne Mickalaki