It’s always great when opening acts don’t resemble the sound of the headliner. The two openers for the Mac Demarco show last Wednesday night at the Crystal Ballroom definitely achieved distinguishing themselves from his sound. The first was local band Meth Teeth who have a very distasteful name (especially if you’re not careful searching for them online) and are known for their fuzzy garage rock sound that fits nicely into the Woodsist label’s canon. Their live performance was much cleaner and reminiscent of a more radio-friendly pop folk sound.
The second opener was Dutch pop diva Dinner. His deep voice has that same Euro-monotone quality that Nico brought to our collective conscious. Half 80’s work-out video, half Kraftwerk-meets-Madonna, Dinner’s over the top energy might have been easy to scoff at at first, but his dedication to his act won him many fans that night.
But onto Mac.
“Does it survive the test of time? I don’t fucking know but we’re gonna play it anyways.”
Mac DeMarco pondered briefly halfway through his band’s set before embarking on a long windy powerful guitar shred that surprised and amazed many of us who are more accustomed to his laid-back backyard BBQ jams. DeMarco may have asked this right before jumping into his cover of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years,” but he could’ve been thinking about his own music. The crowd was overwhelmingly young (the under-21 section felt like packed-in sardines) yet they followed him enthusiastically as he submerged them in the 1970s rock anthem. Perhaps it’s his status as a teen idol or maybe it was his flippant who-gives-a-fuck attitude towards the question that made this typical dad rock anthem readily loved by his young fans. Either way it does remind us of our fleeting youth, a concept Mac lightly dwells on in “Salad Days.” Will his songs age gracefully? Will his fans’ tastes still be relevant as they age? Will his songs be the lame music of some future child’s dad, only to be revived when one of their “cool” music idols covers them? Most likely, but that’s not important to Mac.
The show was something of an eccentricity contest. Between the plastic bag of tiny hands someone threw on stage before the first song to his bandmates’ internet-y jokes that walked that line between funny and stupid (including a creepy one about dolphin sex that really just fell flat) and the inevitable rock-concert archetypical bra-thrown-onto-stage meme during “Chamber of Reflection,” it became clear both the band and the fans were having fun strutting their coolness. By the end of the show the crowd left feeling easy with the fact that we were part of a playful caricature of a rock concert – complete with Mac and his bandmate Andy performing that macho act of removing one’s shirt on stage, crowd surfing, and the blissful and intentionally ironic swaying of lighters in the audience.
Mac is like that cool nasally older kid on the block who’s all about pizza, skateboarding, backwards caps, and playing pranks. He took a moment during the show to invite us all to his afterparty at the White Owl Social Club. Recognizing his audience’s median age range, he advised those under 21 to sneak into the bar: “It’s easy, I did it all the time.” It’s no wonder he’s a walking disciple of our time. When he put on a pink baseball hat, everyone cheered.
Back to his question about musical immortality: Mac showed that he disregards the test of time. To have fun and be loved in the moment seems good enough.