Mac DeMarco brings high-energy slacker rock to Williamsburg

By E.R. Pulgar

Via Allison Stubblebine for WSN
Via Allison Stubblebine for WSN

When you attend a Mac DeMarco show, you probably don’t expect the rising stoner rock demigod to put on an energetic set. Known for his laid-back, heartbroken artistry, DeMarco is best heard when laying in bed and staring at the ceiling for hours thinking about someone who probably isn’t returning your feelings. That being said, during Wednesday’s set at Music Hall of Williamsburg, the atmosphere was anything but.

Openers were garage rockers Happyness and kimono-clad electronic wizard Jerry Paper, both of whom were perfect openers for DeMarco. Paper’s disturbingly trippy visuals and downright strange stage-presence were complements to Happyness’ penchant for warbling guitar, both elements of DeMarco that have helped DeMarco make a name for himself. After riling up the crowd, the man himself appeared and, telling the crowd to “smile on their brothers,” launched into “The Way You’d Love Her,” the opening track off his latest mini-EP.

Contrasting his relaxed persona and his chill, sway-inducing songs was the high energy of the crowd and the band. Even the most relaxed songs almost made for mosh-pits. Relatively laid back “Salad Days” turned into DeMarco shout singing the chorus as his fans sang it back to him, relishing every note. It’s refreshing to see someone truly enjoy performing as much as DeMarco does; it’s comfortable, intimate, and definitely very raw. Just like in his music, he very much lays himself bare onstage, and it’s powerful to watch.

Besides proving his showmanship and frenetically devouring the mic for every song, DeMarco’s relaxed banter with the crowd and his band mates kept the night floating on as the crowd settled, showing how well DeMarco can read a room. His stories are range from hilarious (his bassist receiving an onstage blowjob from a fan) to heartwarming (about his girlfriend taking care of him on tour, which he told before romantically seguing into “A Heart Like Hers,” sung while maintaining eye contact with her from the balcony).

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the show was how well DeMarco deflected every situation that was interrupting the performance. At one point, several condom balloons started flying around the room and he, half-jokingly, popped one and threw it back into a delighted audience while shouting “keep these off my stage and on your motherfucking dicks!” Most notably, during “Together,” several girls got onstage and began to take selfies with the singer and the crowd, receiving several boos and derailing the energy of the set completely. Not one to be upstaged, DeMarco got the girls offstage and proceeded to stage dive for a good ten minutes before jumping back on stage and finishing strong.

Leaving the crowd hungry for more, shouts were heard for an encore performance of “Chamber of Reflection,” arguably DeMarco’s signature song. Peeking out his head from backstage, he brought out his band to an uproar and played the trippy, piano-dominated track as purple lights flooded the stage. Phenomenal closing track aside, DeMarco proved that not only could he cater to fans, but that not even they could take away his stage.

E.R. Pulgar is The Highlighter’s Lead Editor. Email him at epulgar@nyunews.com

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