The king of jangly guitars and melancholy organs was in town last night. Fuelled by Jameson, beer and the energy of screaming teenagers, this man and his band made sure to put on a show the city wouldn’t soon forget. Mac DeMarco and his band made it look effortless, walk on the stage and everybody screams. Play a few songs, everybody screams. Don’t play any songs, somebody’s still starting a mosh pit. The gig started tight and strong, as Mac and the guys went through some of his fast and slow ones. At the start the sound was a little fucked from where I was standing, but I might have been standing in the acoustic ‘Dead Zone’ of the concert hall. After a mosh pit sent the crowd into rolling stumble, I could hear it perfectly.
The gig was one of the most energetic and sloppiest that I’ve been to, in the best way. From the point that they broke a cover of Crystal Waters Gypsy Woman, all coherence was lost. I don’t think I’ve lost my shit more to a cover, one which focused on the ‘La da dee la dee da’ riff rather than doing the whole song. This continued with their rendition of a Star Wars/Animals ballad and a ridiculous take on Vanessa Carlton where the only lyric anyone knew was “Making my way downtown, my way downtown.” When it came to play ‘Viceroy’, Mac picked out a kid from the barrier who had been holding a sign that said ‘MAC CAN I PLAY VICEROY WITH YOU’ and brought him on stage. It was a little miracle that could have went horribly wrong, but it was truly amazing. He told the kid that during the solo near the end he’d pass it off to him – so the kid nervously waited with some maracas in the meantime. When it became time to play his part of the solo, he awkwardly took the guitar from Mac and nailed the solo, closing out the song. Everyone had the same reaction of awe and wonder, it felt like it didn’t really happen, but it did. Mac’s trust in some random fan led to a wonderful moment.
The gig was full of random Glaswegians who probably couldn’t get tickets to the Barrowlands show – who acted oddly, erratically. This is not intended to be a slate against our neighbours to the west, but when the drummer screamed out ‘This is Edinburgh’ they actually booed instead of cheered! I found it kind of funny actually. There was a lot of ‘Here we, Here we fucking go’ which I didn’t realise I’m sick to death to at this point, but Mac brushed it off gleefully by chanting it back at them with an odd cockney sounding accent. The first guy who did it was on somebody’s shoulders, and during the break after the support act it was a welcome break to the monotony. But during the gig when you’re trying to sing to songs and hear what the band are talking about, I felt like these kids were on too many drugs. Or not enough drugs, it’s hard to say. We’re not at colours or waiting for Tiesto to come on, this is the goddamn Usher Hall.
The support act was Alex Cameron who had some good songs and danced like a bastardised Nick Cave. One thing I found funny and then immediately old and grumpy about was the kids at the front who were holding up their phones with large text on the screen saying things like “Any1 Selling Pills?” “Fuck the Edinburgh, Mon eh Glasgow”. I was like “That’s pretty smart” at first then I felt like these kids are fucking idiots when I saw one close to me with “Indie is a meme” and “Come on, help a cunt out with pills, this boy is shite” referring to the Alex Cameron band. I didn’t like it because if you want to do drugs, sort it out before the show it’s very easy to do – and also because he’s slagging off a support act, who already get the shit end of the deal at every gig they ever play.
The gig was not harmed by these things though, it probably improved it – I’m just a miserly cunt who hasn’t smoked weed in a while. People were routinely getting chucked out for smoking which is pretty funny at a gig, because it was the usher hall the security were in full force. They smashed down anyone on shoulders, anyone who was moshing – but the drummer was still able to crowd surf across the hall, and Mac was able to surf inside a box that is supposed to hold a bass drum. Mac tried crowd surfing but was pulled back by the guards because he fell, but he just went to a part of the barrier with no guards there. He got pretty far into the crowd on his little makeshift boat, smoking joints and fags the adoring fans threw at him. At one point he started punching down at a security guard who was trying to get him off, a commendable move – never give into those fucks if you’re the star attraction. I wonder if that happens often where a security guard tries to shut down a show because he doesn’t like a performer.
The show was long, beautiful and theatrical. They played great tight songs (and sloppy jam band covers), using every other moment to get drunk and communicate with a crowd. It’s so different to other gigs I’ve been to in the past years at bigger venues where there is a definite disconnect, either because the crowd is so big or because the band are tired of touring. But these guys were so chatty, and the venue was the right size to fuck around in without messing up the show. In a regal setting like the Usher Hall, it almost felt like pantomime, only without any plot and a lot of cool rock music. It was an exhausting yet exhilarating performance – a sign that it was a gig worth going to.