Currently on tour in the UK with his fourth album Here Comes the Cowboy, I had the opportunity to catch Mac DeMarco’s sold out show in Glasgow Sunday night at the 02 Academy.
Over the years I have read many articles about Mac DeMarco and see him consistently referred to as “up and coming” or a “rising artist”. In my humblest opinion, this is no longer an apt description as he has long been an established indie rock powerhouse and a household name amongst millennials. If you know anything about the indie rock scene, even if it isn’t your favourite type of music, you know the name Mac DeMarco. Unlike some artists who are only popular for a moment or a season, Mac DeMarco has been popular since the release of his first studio album in 2010 and over the years with each subsequent album release his fan base has continuously grown and grown. People who have listened to his music since the beginning are still showing up almost a decade later and persons who have recently found his music are converts no less passionate about his music than the OG’s of his fan base.
We often use the term “fans” to describe a collective group of people who like an artist and/or their work, but I don’t feel that Mac DeMarco merely has fans. They are FANS and he is absolutely BELOVED by them making me feel as though his following has developed into a bit of a cultish fever. Before the show I was able to chat with a few of his younger, more fervent followers. Two girls in their early twenties proudly show me their cowboy hat tattoos on the inside of their bottom lips. Immediately they begin gushing about their love of him and are quick to explain that the matching tattoos are in reference to his newest album. Upon overhearing our conversation a group of boys behind us chime in talking about how much they not only loved his music, but Mac DeMarco himself. Some were even seeing him in concert for the fourth time. So what makes his fans so zealous, coming back time and time again?
As I was pondering this, the band walks out and the crowd turns from impatiently excited to uproarious in an instant. The band begins playing and Mac begins, well, entertaining with slow pop-lock T-Rex stance dance moves and tossing the mic from hand to hand like a spritely kitten with a yarn ball. It is clear that the band likes to have fun on stage. Every member tries to keep straight faces during the most goofy moments, but utterly fail to hold stoic expressions they try so hard to maintain. The crowd loves the humour as they relish every move the band makes and hang on to Mac DeMarco’s every word.
But it isn’t just the laid back, jaunty style that resonates with the audience. Most importantly it is the music. With the walls of the 02 Academy vibrating from the crowd bellowing in unison and vehemently dancing to the catchy guitar riffs, it was easy to recognise the crowd favourites such as ‘Salad Days’, ‘Freaking Out the Neighbourhood’, or ‘Treat Her Better’. The guitar solo from ‘Ode to Viceroy’ was played two additional times due to the utter enthusiasm from the crowd after the first play. Towards the end of the night everyone collectively lost their shit (sorry mom) as ‘Chamber of Reflection’ was played.
Although outwardly Mac DeMarco’s stage presence can be carefree and jovial, his lyrics ooze with deeper meaning touching on themes like young love, growing up, and even escapism like in his most recent album. Possibly the loudest audience sing alongs happened during ‘My Old Man’ when the crowd sang out “Oh no, looks like I’m seeing more of my old man in me” or during his song ‘Together’ in which the song goes “We’ll always go together//It’s easy love, fits like a glove from up above, together”. It was clear that his songs struck a meaningful chord with the audience and that they not only liked the sound of the music, but understood the messages of his lyrics as well.
By the end of the night I understood the Mac DeMarco effect. His ability to relate to his audience and succinctly write about these coming-of-age issues we’ve all experienced at one time or another is what makes so many fall in love with him. Long past being a rising star, Mac DeMarco has achieved success and will continue to do so for years to come. His prowess of connecting to not only the youth of today, but undoubtedly the future generations to come is what will power his longevity as an artist. Although he has just released a new album, I am certain that many are anxiously awaiting the next because, well, we simply can’t get enough.