with Calvin Love and Meatbodies
7th St. Entry, Minneapolis
Monday, June 23, 2014
Early on, Mac DeMarco promised the sold-out Entry that he would make up for the show he had to cancel here last summer. He is a man of his word. A strong 70-minute show got better as it went on, with the performance ending with DeMarco hanging from the rafters and getting the crowd to collectively kneel while he covered Neil Young.
Backed by a three-piece band -- Pete Sagar on guitar, Pierce McGarry on bass, and Joe McMurray on drums -- and a host of friends and cohorts there who invaded the stage to lend their support, DeMarco delivered an entertaining set that had the exuberant full house dancing along to his short bursts of relentless optimism.
DeMarco's music isn't necessarily groundbreaking, but it strikes a euphoric chord. The floor was awash with dancing bodies and random crowd surfers for the entire show. Part of the appeal is certainly the laid-back charm of the 24-year-old DeMarco himself, who is having as much fun on stage as the audience is in front of him.
There is an everyman allure to Mac and his music, where his fans can acutely identify with his sprightly songs and his youthful narratives, as well as the person creating and performing them. No matter where the connection stems from, the bond between DeMarco and his fans is a tight one.
The set got off to a lively start with "Salad Days," the title track to DeMarco's highly revered new record, prompting the audience to sing along to its earworm chorus. After "The Stars Keep Calling My Name," "Blue Boy" slowed things down just a bit with its modern twist on the traditional jam-band sound. A song as nondescript as "Blue Boy" taken on its own could cause one to wonder just what all of the fuss is about with DeMarco, but then he gives a rock 'n' roll benediction to those fans in the front, with repetitive offerings of "bless you child," and you can't help but be won over.
There were elements of Pavement layered within the ramshackle jams of "Treat Her Better" and "Ode to Viceroy," along with touches of Parklife-era Blur in the keys-fueled "Passing Out Pieces." But some of those touchstones and influences might have been lost on the younger audience who lionized DeMarco as if he invented rock music himself. "Viceroy" is a relatively chill number, but to many fans in the club it appeared to be the anthem that gets them through their day or their interminable shift at a shitty job. It's become more than just a song, and when DeMarco and his band offered it up midset, the club responded by singing along at the top of their voices, reinforcing their passionate ties with him.
A rocking, jangly rendition of "I'm a Man" kept things heated, with DeMarco encouraging the crowd to chant for McMurray to take his shirt off. And once Joe acquiesced to our demands, Mac quipped, "Now that we've got you all amped up like frat boys, we've got a really slow song for you." A tender version of "Let My Baby Stay" followed, echoing the vulnerable sweetness of '60s radio hits. The song was charmingly shambolic, and built to an impassioned coda that found DeMarco screaming unguardedly about the one who got away.
"Freaking Out the Neighborhood" kept the party vibes going strong, before Mac slowed things down just a bit for his synth-laden ode to Freemasonry contemplation, "Chamber of Reflection." But things picked up quickly for the last song of the main set, as DeMarco asked a fan in the front, "Do you need a blessing, son? You've been saved tonight." And there would be plenty of people who would agree with that sentiment, especially after the explosive version of "Still Together," which playfully cribs from "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." One of DeMarco's friends was celebrating a birthday, and his lengthy crowd-surfing eventually brought him back onstage where he lifted Mac on his shoulders before they both rode atop the crowd together, with DeMarco hanging upside down from the Entry's rafters.
Music came over the PA after that irrepressible ruckus settled down, leading most in the club to start filing toward the exit. But DeMarco had one last enjoyable musical gem up his sleeve: He got the crowd to kneel as he proceeded to cover Neil Young's stirring lead-off track to Harvest Moon, "Unknown Legend," in his own off-kilter way. It was a solid way for DeMarco to pay homage to a fellow Canadian musical hero, while also serenading his supportive fans one last time.
Personal Bias: I didn't know what to expect from a Mac DeMarco show. And I was won over just like the rest of the crowd.
The Crowd: Packed full of young kids who were thrilled to see Mac in the intimate confines of the Entry, along with a host of curious music lovers who wanted to see what all the fuss is about.
Overheard in the Crowd: "There is something that is just so right about what is happening in this room right now."
Random Notebook Dump: DeMarco's canceled Entry show was scheduled for June 18, 2013, almost exactly one year before this makeup date.
The Stars Keep Calling My Name
Treat Her Better
Cooking Up Something Good
Passing Out Pieces
Let Her Go
Ode To Viceroy
I'm a Man
Let My Baby Stay
Freaking Out the Neighborhood
Rock and Roll Nightclub
Chamber of Reflection
-- Encore --
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