Austin 101 Magazine

Concert Review: Mac DeMarco Keeping Austin Weird

by Dan Radin

Mac DeMarco T-rex stomped onto the stage in the backyard of the Long Center.  “Smile upon your neighbor.  Keep it respectful.  Keep it hydrated,” DeMarco called out to the packed lawn.  Then, in traditional Austin fashion, he put on an absolute clinic of weird.

16-Mac DemarcoDeMarco screech-shouted, mic twirled, and boozed his way through a super-casual set.  Sporting an oversized T-shirt and flat brimmed hat, the Canadian would have been right at home in any east-side bar.  The lawn’s youthful, weed-smoking audience would have welcomed the musicians with open arms.

13-Mac DemarcoAs the show went on, the band entered the fray.  Their engaging dialogue at times teetered the line of outrageous, while setting the tone early with wit and camaraderie.  They told stories about dipping in Barton Springs; F-bombs ripped, while nobody shied away from improvisation.  A post-song jam even turned into the keyboardist stumbling into the piano riff of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles”.

As the sun set, DeMarco turned around to look at the Austin skyline.  “Look at all those buildings back there, what the f*ckkkkkkk,” the singer mused, outstretched finger pointed at the Google building. “That one’s got a big G on it.  What’s that, Good Bar? Garbanzo?… OK, what the f*ck should we play next?”

17DeMarco directed the band through an album-spanning, loosely-coordinated set.  Planning clearly lacked at times, but entertainment value [mostly] prevailed.  DeMarco once pulled a fan up on stage to sing one of his deep cuts when he forgot the words.  He tossed out some tasty blues-psych guitar licks.  At the ask of the band, the crowd tossed enough cowboy hats on stage for everyone to wear.  

When DeMarco asked the hesitant crowd to pull out their phones and flashlights, his quick-shot guitarist roused the laughs. “What, your battery’s dying? Your mom’s calling? You need your booty call? You up? You up? What’s up? You need a Lime later?”  The show progressed, and DeMarco continued to punish the replenished bottle of liquor.

The evening culminated in a smorgasbord jam where the opening act, shimmery surf-rock Bane’s World, came back to support DeMarco’s band on percussion. In the 25-minute jam, the drunk musicians went on to all continuously switch their instruments, put hats on one another, strip and toss shirts, make a call-and-response with the crowd about turkey sandwiches, chain smoke, do handstands, make fart noises in the mic, pull up the sound guy to play guitar, rip shots, take off shoes and clap overhead.  DeMarco took a stint on the drum set, then literally laid down on stage for ten minutes while his band continued without him.

See all our concert photos from the show.

The mayhem concluded when the band launched into “Sharp Dressed Man.”  DeMarco rose from the dead, cigarette in mouth, into a blistering guitar solo.  It got the confused crowd back in the show, just in time for curfew.

DeMarco and crew’s zaniness scored memories for everyone in attendance.  Crazy, fun, and unabashedly themselves; I’d for SURE go see them again.

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