At this point, Mac DeMarco has transcended the status of musician. He’s a modern rock star, a cult of personality for indie-rock fans who love smoking as well as listening to songs about smoking. An incredibly skilled performer, his presence is enough to satisfy an audience, and this was none more apparent than during his live performance at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco this past Tuesday.
Coming off the release of his latest album Salad Days, DeMarco — Canadian-born and 24 years old — is touring throughout Canada, the U.S., and Europe, performing at sold-out shows as well as music festivals such as FYF in Los Angeles and Bumpershoot in Seattle. Known for his crazy on-stage antics, which have included stripping naked and inserting a drum stick up his own butt, DeMarco dialed back some of his mischief, but his performance was still unhindered and unstrained.
Opening the show, Calvin Love, with his supporting band, played an energetic, sharp pop-rock set that brought vibes similar to Bradford Cox’s Atlas Sound. Yet by the end of his set, it was clear that everyone wanted to see DeMarco. Wasting minimal time between sets, DeMarco was welcomed to a large amount of applause as he stepped on stage to sound check his equipment.
Opening the set with the self-titled track from Salad Days, DeMarco played with a sense of grace and nonchalance that the audience adored. More guitar-heavy tracks like “Blue Boy” and “Cooking Up Something Good” had the audience moving while slower tracks such as “Passing Out Pieces” had the audience enthralled. Even though most of DeMarco’s songs are laidback, the audience still managed to turn into a full mosh-pit during smoking-anthem “Ode to Viceroy.”
In between songs, DeMarco held a lighthearted calmness on stage that most musicians never show. His carefree attitude extended to an audience that adored every facet of DeMarco’s persona. After playing “Ode to Viceroy,” DeMarco, to his delight, was gifted a pack of Viceroy cigarettes by an audience member. Even as DeMarco messed up the lead of the penultimate song of the set “Chamber of Reflection,” there were no complaints from the crowd.
Ending the show with the bittersweet acoustic song “Still Together,” DeMarco still managed to have enough time for a couple of stage dives. DeMarco has become an icon of the modern rockstar. Full of goofyness, humility and genuineness on stage, DeMarco rocks out as a star who is almost impossible not to like.