Mac DeMarco, rising star Dinner show personality in San Francisco performance

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If there is a trend defining many of the up-and-coming musicians of the 2010s, it is the eccentric artist — the musician who is as much as a character onstage as he or she is a musician. This culture of a cult of personality was all too apparent in Dinner and Mac DeMarco’s sold-out performance at the Independent on April 20.

Dinner, an alias for producer and singer Anders Rhedin, opened the show, and his ecstatic performance turned out to be the best surprise for the audience that night. Reminiscent of synth-heavy ’80s pop music mixed with European idiosyncrasies and a deep baritone voice, Rhedin’s one-man performance fit the ridiculous and lighthearted stage. Rivaling Sam Herring of Future Island’s performance on Late Show with David Letterman one year ago, Rhedin offered a main act that was filled with incredible slightly awkward yet captivating dance moves that mesmerized the crowd the entire show.

Rhedin’s eccentricity was enhanced by his faux seriousness. He committed himself to the act, never breaking character or cracking a smile, as every dance move and word uttered onstage felt genuine and exciting. As Rhedin left the stage and performed one of his songs in the middle of the crowd, the artist didn’t hold back in dancing wildly while surrounded by strangers in a way that fit his persona perfectly.

Shortly after Rhedin’s set, DeMarco and his band took the stage, starting off with the self-titled track from Salad Days. DeMarco played in a way that made it seem all too easy, performing with a sloppy grace that every fan loves. In a 21-plus show at the end of April 20, the crowd brought a much more calm vibe that did not involve heavy amounts of moshing for most of the show. Tracks such as “The Stars Keep On Calling My Name” and “Let Her Go” hit the perfect balance between laid back and energetic, but some of DeMarco’s older songs, such as “I’m a Man” and “Rock and Roll Night Club,” made the set much more calm by virtue of not having most of the audience singing along.

It’s slightly disappointing that DeMarco, who recently announced that he’s making another LP entitled Another One, did not get to play any new material, considering that he has been touring with the same set list for a little more than a year. Yet hearing the same tracks from 2 and Salad Days, such as “My Kind of Woman” and “Chamber of Reflection,” is always a joy, especially during DeMarco’s live sets. His carefree attitude emanates through the crowd, and it is this specific feeling that every Mac DeMarco fan loves about him. No matter how many times one can experience it, being in the crowd as he plays “Ode to Viceroy” is pure bliss.

Near the end of the set, DeMarco crowd-surfed during half of the song “Still Together.” He culminated the surf with a trust fall from the second-story balcony directly into the crowd, where he was caught by adoring fans. At this point, DeMarco’s ridiculous, dangerous antics are to be expected at almost every show, but it’s impossible to be offended or worried when DeMarco himself is so happy and involved. In an encore with stylized semi-covers of “Enter Sandman” and “Smoke on the Water” — which eventually turned into a 10-minute jam — the crowd devolved into a full-on mosh, even on a Monday night.

At the end of it all, the Independent was the perfect venue for these eccentric artists. Listening to Dinner’s offbeat Europop is only part of the experience of seeing Rhedin onstage, flailing in a way that almost forces you to join him in dance and movement. Listening to the first chorus of “Ode to Viceroy” is so much more incredible when you are in the crowd of stoners about to light up. If there’s something to be learned from the dual performance, it’s that we come to see the musician, but we stay to see the performer.


Contact Art Siriwatt at [email protected].