Mac DeMarco, DINNER host a raging revival on 4/20

Mac DeMarco

Mac DeMarco

Photos by Pedro Paredes // Written by Molly Kish //

Mac DeMarco with DINNER //
The Independent – San Francisco
April 20th, 2015 //

The king of slacker rock, Mac DeMarco spent this past Monday headlining The Independent on 4/20. A sold-out venue welcomed the “Pepperoni Playboy” with open arms for what has been the most raucous SF show of 2015. Stage diving, spiritual cleansing and Steeley Dan covers amidst a killer set of DeMarco’s extended rock ballads made for a haze-filled night, reaching maximum capacity with DeMarco enthusiasts.



Never one to shy away from eccentric tourmates, DeMarco enlisted the help of Danish producer and fellow Captured Tracks record label artist DINNER. Living up to his stigma of “the world’s most unlikely pop artist,” DINNER delivered his signature brand of murky synths and danceable dark wave to the less-than-familiar crowd.

Although many in attendance seemed to be experiencing the enigmatic performer for the first time, DINNER had them eating out of the palm of his hand within minutes of taking the stage — whether it was leading the audience with his charismatic dance moves and prompting many to join in with his synchronized stage show or simply telling the crowd to “close your eyes and feel it.”

Closing with the first single off of his yet-to-be-released debut album Going Out, he ushered in DeMarco’s headlining set with a final goodbye and stated, “I can feel you, California. Thank you my friends.” He then danced off the stage and into the hearts of everyone who got there early enough to see him perform.

Mac DeMarco

Mac DeMarco early on in the night.

DeMarco took the stage somewhat early for a headliner, though it was with full intention of utilizing the entire evening to put on one big raging 4/20 party. He started by tempering an already rowdy crowd with a mild performance of Salad Days and pulled in the reigns before completely giving way to what presumably he knew would end up in full-blown chaos.

Although known to pick up the pace of his live shows as they progress, DeMarco kept the first half of his set mellow and focused mainly on his love songs and ballads. As a true maestro of his audience, you could tell about 45 minutes in that DeMarco had reached a point in the evening where he felt comfortable with switching up the tempo. And he did so in grand Mac fashion, of course.

Mac DeMarco

Mac DeMarco

Before launching into the second half of his set, DeMarco started a commentary with the crowd on the relevance of the 4/20 holiday and how the venue, although smoky, needed to be cleansed. Bringing his touring shaman with a smoking bundle of Paolo Santo on stage, he added his own blend of vapor to the completely clouded venue, riding the space of any demons or bad energy before he continued his performance. From that point on, DeMarco took the sold-out venue from a hazy variety hour to a full-blown rock show, kicking things off with a guitar-shredding cover of Steeley Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years”.

Mac DeMarco

A Mac DeMarco show wouldn’t be complete without a few stage dives.

The rest of the night exploded into an all-out party prompted by the band’s crowd-surfing antics, audience participation and sheer lack of pretentious behavior that most concert-goers have learned to expect from musicians of such caliber. DeMarco has an uncanny ability to draw in his audience as if they were simply there to party with him and his bandmates, almost like you were attending a backyard party or band practice with a few hundred of your closest friends.

At several points during the show, DeMarco stopped to tell embarrassing stories, make fun of the band’s crew members or comment on the ridiculous nature of the audience. For example, an improvised scat session erupted from a so-called “rumor” about the band’s touring sound engineer, sleeping with reggae fusion singer Shaggy, which led to a cover of “It Wasn’t Me” to take the inside joke a step further.

Mac DeMarco

Mac DeMarco after crowd surfing across the venue.

The night wouldn’t be complete without an epic stage dive from DeMarco, especially after nearly every other band member had already made their way into the arms of their adoring fans. DeMarco, for one, wasn’t willing to be upstaged, considering the bar had already been set plenty high (pun intended).

Returning to the stage for a two-song encore that included covers of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”, DeMarco went flying into the arms of the fired-up crowd. Ushered throughout the venue on the shoulders and raised hands of the audience while nearly getting his clothes ripped off in the process, he made it to the back wall where most expected him to be gently brought down to the ground or redirected back towards the stage.

From there, DeMarco took matters into his own hands and climbed up toward the second floor soundbooth for an even grander attempt at “stage” diving. Corralling The Inde’s clamoring masses, he turned away from the crowd, covered his face with his hands and took a giant trust fall into the audience from 10 feet above the tallest member, before getting lifted back to the stage to finish the show.

Mac DeMarco

Even some fans got into the stage-diving spirit.

Even with DeMarco unsuccessfully attempting to crowd source an after-party during the final moments of the evening, this show was definitely one for the books. Brimming with musical talent, this bill would have been equally as entertaining minus the performers’ eccentricities, which, if anything, only served as an added bonus in the grand scheme of things.

More of a secular rock revival than a run-of-the-mill Monday night show, DeMarco took things to a whole different level during a city-wide holiday that offered him a crowd that was already lost in the proverbial stratosphere. Just days after the show, he announced the impending release of a new mini-album, leaving us readily anticipating seeing more of him and his rotating cast of tourmates in SF before or at least during the weekend of Outside Lands Music Festival this August.

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