|Photos by Justin Weber|
He asked the crowd to bear with him and quickly his band – Peter Sagar (Guitar), Pierce McGarry (Bass) and Joe McMurray (Drums) – launched into a series of gags that ended with McGarry singing his “Medieval Tale.”
The crowd laughed, DeMarco smiled, finished tuning and what could have been speed bump turned into a launching ramp.
DeMarco’s shows are filled with moments like these. The band’s quick wits and familiarity with each other can turn any moment into an outtake. They were fueled by the adoring crowd - many mimicking the 90s snapback hat and old button up look of DeMarco and his band mates - which led DeMarco to thank them.
“I thought I was going to pass out on the road, but now I feel like I’ve done a mountain of cocaine,” he said which prompted the band to riff on Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” for a few minutes. Twisted versions of classic rock tunes including Clapton, Neil Young and “Taking Care of Business” were common during the night.
Their humor isn’t always clever – it’s as referential and crude as you would expect from 23 year olds raised in the 90s – but its never exclusive. The band isn’t just having fun with themselves. DeMarco wants everybody having fun.
DeMarco has a deep respect for his audience and it comes out in displays of kindness. It’s as simple as announcing song names before the band plays, but it’s much more than that. When the people in the front row – so close they were behind the PA – kept asking for more volume on the vocals, DeMarco turned his monitor to face them. When a particularly needy fan kept touching DeMarco, untying his shoes and repeating her requests over and over, DeMarco handled it with grace asking her name and announcing her request to the crowd (“Me and Jon Hanging On”) before playing it.
It’s easy to fall for DeMarco watching him live. He’s got a mischievous, charming grin that on anybody else might signal irony or something held back, but there’s no pretense to the happiness and gratitude he expresses.
Friday night, he closed his set as he normally does with the sweet and fitting “Still Together.” During the final chorus, he put his girlfriend on his shoulders and sang with a smile, a sign that he’s just a kid having the best time of his life.
Opening for DeMarco were local favorites Lonnie Walker and Gross Ghost.
Gross Ghost’s are always impressively powerful live. “Meltdown” and “You Tell Me” come across particularly well, but the band played three new songs – “Seeds,” “Tryin’” and “Memory Screen” – that feel made for the stage. “Tryin’” allowed the band some freedom at the end to dig in for an extended jam. It will be interesting to hear how they translate on the band’s new album in September as Gross Ghost live and on record have been different experiences to this point.
Lonnie Walker mixed up old and new songs as well. “Grape Juice” from 2009’s These Times Old Times excited the crowd and inspired an early set sing-a-long, but the highlight of the set was a new song – called “Cum Inside” according to the written set list – that had fantastic peaks and valleys. During the quiet stretches, haunting slide guitar provided a mesmerizing setting for lead singer Brian Corum’s lyrics. They finished with “Teenage Poem” a raucous, rambling tune ideal for setting up Mac DeMarco.
Ghost Ghost set list
You Tell Me
Lonnie Walker set list
All Bombs Away
Heart Breaking Ball
Mac DeMarco set list
Cookin’ Up Something Good
The Stars Keep On Calling My Name
Rock and Roll Night Club
Ode To Viceroy
Cocaine (Eric Clapton)
Freaking Out The Neighborhood
Tears in Heaven (Eric Clapton)
Baby’s Wearing Blue Jeans
I’m A Man
My Kind of Woman (Introduced as “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam)
Me and Jon Hanging On
She’s Really All I Need
Takin’ Care of Business (Bachman-Turner Overdrive) into classic rock medley
Unknown Legend (Neil Young)