What do you think of when you picture Mac Demarco. A true Canadian icon? Just a goofy nonsensical performer that calls his music genre jizz jazz? Someone whose deep music speaks beyond their crazy exterior? Or just some guy that likes to get naked a lot in his shows?
Well, the spectacular thing about Mac Demarco is that he’s all of those things. What’s most striking about Mac Demarco is that he’s a total character. One that you can’t really understand, but can only watch on. Watch on like 1,500 of us lucky fans did at Thursday’s show at The Danforth Music Hall.
Mac Demarco has transcended the Canadian indie music scene the same way Canadian bands of the last decade like Arcade Fire have. With a slight psychadelic twist in his music, he’s up there in the likes of the latest bands that cover the resurgence of psychadelic music over the past couple years. In fact, I first heard about him in a podcast by global psychadelic rockers Tame Impala from all the way in Perth, Australia.
Starting right from the beginning, Mac Demarco grew up in Edmonton, Alberta as a kid and went through the usual affair of high school bands. He released an album under the moniker Makeout Videotape in Vancouver, where he picked up roadworks as a profession to support his music making career.
After a bit of hanging around, he decided that Montreal was a better place for him to “hang-out,” and promptly packed his bags and headed across the country.
Struggling at first to get by in the big city, Mac resorted to participating in medical experiments to get by.
Our first taste of Mac Demarco under his current name was Mac’s first album Rock and Roll Nightclub. Suffering from tonsilitis at the time, instead of calling it a day like most of us would, he took advantage of it and crooned out unique deep and throaty lyrics that had a particular intimacy to them.
It was also a first taste of Mac’s iconic slinky guitar sound, albeit with a bit of a dirty vibe that matched his croaky voice.
It might just be the almost cheesy deep vocals, but something about Rock and Roll Night Club gave the biggest hint of his crazy personality.
His first refined piece came from the aptly named album 2, which brings me to something I really admire about Mac Demarco’s music.
With any artist, you always hear the first couple albums were the peak becuase of their style. Purists will always say, ‘Arctic Monkeys were shite after Favourite Worst Nightmare,’ or that Coldplay lost its touch after Rush of Blood To The Head (guilty). Although we can always agree that it’s put down to the artist’s natural progression; they have to change over time.
But Mac Demarco’s music has always been so effortlessly similar. There’s always been subtle changes: Rock and Roll Night Club to 2 see’s a lot more of a simple, clean, and refined sound in the latter. The transition from 2 to Salad Days almost loses the lo-fi sound entirely, with much more presence on synths. But the formula always remains the same. Smooth and slinky guitar riffs and basslines that jump from note to note.
Name pretty much any other artist and you’d figure their sounds would get boring after a while. But Mac’s always been able to find a fresh new riff without sacrificing the whole formula. The effortlessness sound it makes is something you have to admire.
I’m sure you’ve gotten the point this far in that Mac’s a pretty goofy goober. All you need to do is take a listen to the interlude skit’s in Rock and Roll Night Club.
But any antics on his album’s are minuscule to what happens on stage. Do one Google search, I dare you, and see what comes up.
Here’s an excerpt from his interview with The Stool Pigeon:
“I wasn’t even supposed to be playing; I just rolled up with my iPod and started singing karaoke version of my songs. All of a sudden, my clothes came off, everyone’s pouring beer on me and I stuck drumsticks up my ass.”
And when he’s not shoving drumsticks up his butt, he’s throwin’ his thumb up there too.
Try not to gag, but he sucked on it right after.
Why so much insanity at his shows? Admittedly, most of the craziness happened at his earlier shows, which he describes as a good excuse to get drunk, In an interview with Exclaim.ca:
“On stage, we usually get pretty goofy. I think it’s good though. If we’re getting all loose and goofy, the crowd usually lightens up and starts having a funkier time. In the studio, I just sit around in my stinky underwear in my living room for a couple weeks. I guess the difference is the clothing.”
Hearing all this about Mac, you’ve got to wonder, is he some properly insane superstar, un-relatable and unreachable if you ever tried? I think he’s just a regular guy who’s comfortable with showing his goofy side out to the world, a part of his personality that everyone can relate to. He’s just been comfortable showing it.
And behind it all, it’s spectacular that there’s still the simple sentiments of love and love lost, songs that feel like home, or my personal favourite, songs about cheap cigarettes.
Mac Demarco is a simple man, and as he’d say it, he’s just here to keep on giving us some jizz jazz