When the openers for Friday’s show at the Greek Theatre — The Garden and Homeshake — finished their sets, the mood was set for indie rock artist Mac DeMarco, and the lights went down. Among the few stage hands shuffling around with amps, mics and dozens of folding chairs, it was possible to see a baseball cap-wearing white guy — a cigarette dangling from his mouth — making his way across the stage to double-check an amp.
As the lights come up, the theme song from “The Godfather” plays, and a band of ragtag musicians, who all look like some derivative from your dad in his “golden years,” makes its way onto the stage. DeMarco, mocking the role of conductor, waves his arms to the music until it stops. After a loud “Wassup,” the screaming crowd settles down, and he introduces the band.
DeMarco screams from his mic, “I’m going to sing a song. It’s called ‘I’m John Mayer’ ” — a title that’s nowhere to be found on his discography. He and his band start rolling, and the whole amphitheater is clapping their hands above their heads. At the front of what he affectionately referred to as “The Bistro” was Homeshake, grooving right along. The song comes to a close, and DeMarco points into the crowd at a guy with a sign.
“It’s Moe!” he shouts after the guy crawls onto the stage, bear-hugs DeMarco and whispers an introduction away from the crowd. Moe, a guy who, like many of the guys in the audience, could pass for a pre-Salad Days DeMarco himself, was invited up to go-go dance on an amp while Demarco sang a hyped-up rendition of “The Stars Keep On Calling My Name.” Moe did a Cleopatra, a stanky leg and more body rolls than cigarettes smoked by DeMarco during the entirety of the show (which was more than seven … if anyone’s counting).
DeMarco’s music isn’t anything super groundbreaking. It’s pretty, beachy, indie music that reminds its listeners of what it’s like to be young. What keeps people coming show after show is that DeMarco has a way of making everyone he’s surrounded by feel like his best friends; it was as if the entirety of the sold-out Greek Theatre was an extension of the Bistro, complete with charming chainsmokers and baseball caps.
Even though DeMarco’s latest album This Old Dog (2017) was one to pull on the heartstrings, he filled his show with a smorgasbord of weird voices and strangely timed outbursts. He would stomp around the stage and knock back some beers, all while still making time to smooch with the keyboardist soloing on the maracas.
After “Ode to Viceroy” sent a few kids crowd-surfing through the pit, the music halted for the bassist to make an announcement — his “great-great-great-great grandfather” Lynel was supposedly in the crowd tonight. DeMarco chimed in to lament the fact that Lynel couldn’t be in the pit tonight because his bones are, alas, basically dust.
Not that the concert wasn’t already a meme, but in the last 45 minutes, DeMarco ramped it up with a mid-September cover of “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” followed by a nearly 15-minute cover of “A Thousand Miles,” dedicated to former guitarist Peter Sagar. Throngs of lighters and cell phone flashlights shot into the air, leaving DeMarco starry-eyed by the end of his rendition of Vanessa Carlton’s early 2000s sensation.
Although his closing song was his Salad Days hit, “Chamber of Reflection,” DeMarco returned for an encore in the last two minutes, pushing the Greek’s hard curfew with an acoustic performance of “Watching Him Fade Away,” a song from This Old Dog whose lyrics encapsulate a lot of the melancholy from his latest album — reminding the audience of the dynamism of the artist smoking his last cigarette on stage. Although bittersweet, DeMarco clutched a beer to his chest to serenade his audience, flashing his trademark tooth gap before thanking his audience for the show one last time.
Contact Annalise Kamegawa at [email protected].