Love him or hate him, you truly cannot say that Mac DeMarco isn’t consistent. The indie rock songwriter is barely three years into his public career and he is already at the point of selling out the Neptune Theatre with ease, garnering a massive fanbase both young and old, and rocking every night with a completely different vibe than the prior one. For a young musician, DeMarco is anything if not prolific. In just the last six months, he played a massive set at Bumbershoot, an opening set for Julian Casablancas and the Voidz at Showbox, and a headlining gig at Chop Suey (the last two were on the same night, mind you). His most recent record Salad Days mixes easy going mid-20s slacker mentality with some real, very serious questions about the future and getting older, accepting more responsibility but not knowing what to do with it. But it’s the way that Mac offers us his work that keeps us begging for more. He is so open handed in his young wisdom, and so honest in his goofiness, it’s quite difficult not to fall completely in love with him. Furthermore, all of the above is only amplified when the guy does trust falls off the second level of the Neptune Theater without blinking. With an opening set from Danish producer and singer Dinner, Mac continued his unstoppable rise to fame Thursday night in pitch perfect fashion.
It’s hard to wow a crowd when you are opening for Mac DeMarco, but damn it all if Dinner doesn’t get close. Dinner is another Captured Tracks name you’ll be hearing more of as time goes on. His first three EPs just got rereleased on Captured Tracks, this time for the first time on vinyl. Born Anders Rhedin, Dinner produces hazy, 80s-laden euro-pop for weirdos who aren’t afraid to dance. Rhedin certainly wasn’t afraid to – he may have covered more of the Neptune stage than DeMarco’s entire band in his spectacularly coordinated set. I, for one, really hope we get a headlining Dinner set sometime soon. In Mac’s own words, “Nice face, great body, great tunes”.
Watching Mac DeMarco and his band goof off in song after song, it sounds completely idiotic to say so, but really, sometimes I think it must be hard to be Mac DeMarco. While not being revealing much about his personal life or being far too open, Mac has a massive social media following, winning the hearts of countless young people who are drawn to, if nothing else, his sincere sense of self-assurance and honesty (complete with bathroom humor hashtags and ridiculous hilarity all around). But at the same time, this is the guy who wrote Salad Days, an album that broke me and my Millenial cohorts with its confessional vulnerability and sincere questioning of what the world wants from him. On stage, as his crowd takes selfies throws Viceroy cigarettes like glow sticks, Mac and his band (the archangel golden child Andy, the Jurassic Park grunge fashion icon Pierce, and incredibly patient drummer Joe) knock out song after song with made-for-TV levels of perfection. In the middle of Salad Days cut “Let Her Go”, Joe breaks into AC/DC “Thunderstruck” drums and has Mac and Andy rolling in laughter before they get their shit together enough to finish the song. Meanwhile, in the crowd, barely a soul notices – too much moshing, too many snuck pictures with Mac’s gaptooth smile in the background, too many joints lit a foot below the view of the security guard in the corner. Andy and Mac’s deuling guitar solo ending to “Ode to Viceroy” is drowned out by excited screams in the crown. Even the cover songs go to waste when there’s no one born within 15 years of the release of the song they are throwing down. But there’s something magical about every last bit of it. In creating the image he’s garnered, Mac reminds the kids to be themselves. All the social media crap and the goofiness – that isn’t an image, that’s just Mac being Mac. And for that matter, so is are the introspective messages on Salad Days and 2 that keep us all coming back after the fireworks are over. It’s this that makes Mac DeMarco one of the most important emerging faces we have in last few years, and that’s why the Neptune is packed to the gills on nights like tonight.
All that being said, tonight, Mac did not spare the fireworks. After a flawless set of his usuals, Mac waited until “Still Together” to surf back through the crowd (after a completely awesome “be yourself” rant from Andy that nearly had me in tears). But tonight’s surf makes all others look pitiful in comparison. Mac surfed over the wave of high schoolers up over a five foot barrier into the bar, then was hoisted up by the balcony to surf to the back top corner of the entire theater, before falling backwards off the balcony into the bar to surf back up to the front. But even then, the night had not come to a climax. Upon returning for an encore, the band played a right and true encore, and broke out a blistering rendition of “Enter Sandman”. Of course, this is a track that Mac has been breaking out for years. But tonight’s rendition was especially monumental, with every bit of the bite of the original, complete with Mac’s wry smile and general sense of not taking any of it too seriously. Truly, tonight was a perfect Mac DeMarco set for fans of all walks of life. There’s no question that this refreshing rising character on the scene is here to stay.
Mac DeMarco’s Salad Days is out now on Captured Tracks. Watch for his new mini-LP Another One out later this year. Dinner’s Three EPs is also out now on Captured Tracks.