Mac DeMarco is a born performer, a musical vanguard with a commanding presence – confident and cool, but self-deprecating as all hell. If he wasn’t a musician he’d be a stand-up comic or maybe a used car salesman or a motivational speaker. He’s a complete gentleman on top of it too. But it’s his riding of this fine line between cordiality and incredulous slob that makes him so damn entertaining. His performance at Empty Bottle was the last in a month long tour.
Sipping casually on a can of Hamms, Mac took time before his set to exchange a few pleasantries with fans. He complimented them, calling them “cool, pimpin’ and sexy,” brandishing every inch of that mile wide, gap-toothed smile. He calmly introduced himself and the band, and without missing a beat said, “for our first song we’re going to play ‘Cooking Up Something Good,’ a song about cooking meth:” [LISTEN]
Daddy’s in the basement, cooking up something fine
While Rick’s out on the pavement, flipping it for dimes
If there’s anything redeeming, I haven’t seen it yet
And I’m still up at midnight, chewing nicorette
The thing about the 22-year-old Mac DeMarco is he really isn’t what you think he is. His reputation tends to precede him, and the crowd was looking for some of that insanity to emerge, half expecting him to strip naked and start shoving shit up his ass, which, yes, he’s done before.
It’s a fair idea to entertain because the edge you hear in his songs suggest a complete breakdown is on its way if not right at his door. But it was quite the contrary. His form was tight, and his voice strong – a surprising range with a conscious grasp of melody and harmony. His band helped. Joe, Pierce and Peter gave songs like “Ode to Viceroy” the cinematic treatment: [LISTEN]
Viceroy, don’t take me for a fool now
I’m only trying to calm down
Just trying to keep it cool
Mac also took time out to offer some sage advice about the industry. He explained how sometimes you have to man up and do what you have to do. “You’re a budding porn star and you have to suck the dick with shit on it,” he said with a serious tone. “Sometimes you just got to suck the shitty dick.”
Words of wisdom that came before jumping into a cover of Weezer’s “Undone – The Sweater Song.” Now normally any sign of a cover curdles the blood. But the fact he intentionally butchered ever lyric – with the exception of the hook – made it worth it.
The set culminated with “Still Together.” He put his guitar down and let his voice shine, explaining to everyone that, “I’ve had a lot of sex. My girl, not so much. But we’re still together:” [LISTEN]
I’ve had my share, it’s just not fair
That we should be together
But if it’s fine that I’ve done my time
Let’s walk the line together
He continued to serenade the crowd, and just when it started getting a little too serious he invited his friends on stage for a quick lovefest, which involved a giant group hug, bassist Pierce McGarry planting one on anther guy, and Mac fingering the hell out of his buddy’s asshole. He had everyone eating out of his hand that night. Shitty finger and all.