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Thursday, 17 July 2014 17:25

Concert review: Mac DeMarco rides solo at the Old Rock House, Wednesday, July 16

Concert review: Mac DeMarco rides solo at the Old Rock House, Wednesday, July 16 / Maéva Pensivy
Written by Blair Stiles

Last night, cradled by St. Louis' Old Rock House, Mac DeMarco crafted a cult out of the sold-out crowd.

Absent of a band (van malfunctions), DeMarco played an solo set with his electric guitar. His chords mimicked his electric sound's flouncy tone: a freeform yacht rock with ambient party sleaze. Stripped of drums, bass and polymorphic tones that give DeMarco's compositions reverb that trudges through electric instrumentation, DeMarco's renditions had the bounce of campfire songs.

The moment he struck up "Cooking Up Something Good" an all-out sing-along ensued. Not that DeMarco needed much help on vocals. His strengths as a singer belong to his squirrely falsetto and unencumbered timbre. DeMarco looks as weightless as he sounds -- his outfits consist of open-faced button downs on ancient tee-shirts and snapbacks indigenous to the style of HUF. Everything about DeMarco appears laissez-faire. Everything DeMarco projects onstage is served with a side of apathetic panache.

To wit: he ganked "Oliver," the bassist for opener Calvin Love, who can't be a day older than the bright side of 19, and fed him to the audience. With a hair of Alex Trebek in his inflection, DeMarco had young Oliver stripped of his shirt and brought to the front of the stage. He announced that Oliver needed a "mate" and was a "fine-bodied" young man. During "Let Her Go" Oliver was jettisoned into the crowd and passed around for inspection in an act commonly referred to as "crowd-surfing." Oliver looked dazed, elated, and too innocent for the ravenous 20-something hipster babes that groveled for a chance to push him further into the crowd. DeMarco also brought three women onstage to wriggle painfully during an otherwise beautiful number.

Around this time, a blue-capped kid with a one-hitter lit up and slid me a side-eye I'll never forget. It was then I understood that anything that happens at a Mac DeMarco show is a projection of DeMarco himself. That crowd was blitzed and ready for anything DeMarco would cook up.

DeMarco was a congenial presence onstage, free of affectation and rife with anecdotes. Before "Robson Girl," a crowd-requested number, he told the audience about his adventures in Vancouver. As he turned, he talked of "the most beauuutiful japanese girls" who never returned his advances. He exclaimed, "What the fuck!" and strummed.

The moment reminded me of DeMarco's actions prior to his set. On Old Rock House's patio he hung out with fans, signing autographs and taking photos of and with his audience. It made sense then that he was comfortable enough to ask for a "big, big party" after the show and mentioned that he needed a place to sleep for the night.

To conclude his set, he chose "Still Together," an ode to love's endurance. DeMarco wound up having half the crowd crash his stage, and that was after he brought Oliver back to hold the mic and crowd surfed while he cooed the "la la las" on the refrain. As the crowd on his stage flailed and seized up like hyperactive Fraggle Rockers, DeMarco appeared choked up as he thanked the crowd for coming out. Afterwards, he remained onstage to shake hands and hug anyone in proximity. He looked like a minister of good vibrations.

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