Saturday 11 January 2019 Festival Hall, Melbourne

Review by Andrea Royston

HERE COMES MAC DEMARCO brought plenty of the ‘Mac’ spirit down under as he left the audience at Melbourne’s Festival Hall on Saturday night begging for more! Well known for his on-stage antics and rowdy performance persona, Mac last served his antics to sold-out East Coast dates alongside his sets at Laneway Festival back in 2018. DeMarco’s highly anticipated return has had fans waiting since July 2019 and this unforgettable performance proved that the wait was worth it! 

This headline run is DeMarco’s biggest headline run yet and was announced in celebration of his fourth album Here Comes The Cowboy. This new record was described as his “masterpiece” (Q magazine) on its release in May 2019. The Canadian-born artist has always taken a more contemplative approach to song writing, the new album framing these introspections in breezy grooves.

One of the bands joining DeMarco on this Aussie adventure was Japanese punks CHAI. The feminist quartet made their Australian debut in the wake of their album Pink. These quirky ladies brought a lot of colour to the room for the crowd to feel welcome and excited.

The next support act are no strangers to our music scene. Perth psych-rockers, Pond, also joined the Mac Daddy on the road. These Aussie gems provided huge hype with their rich melodies and signature trippy instrumentals. 

For almost a decade now, Mac has been in the public eye and has formed a reputation on the music scene as a bit of a goof. With his laid-back indie rock that attracts countless audiences, he always manages to make his performances look effortlessly cool. Dressed in his usual casual attire along with a bucket hat, Mac and his eccentric personality arrived promptly on stage for a generous length set.

Mac’s setlist was carefully crafted consisting of old hits and new favourites. Mac took the time to present songs from his latest record, the bizarre and unique ‘Here Comes The Cowboy’. “Let’s play some”, Mac said as he and his band jumped into show opener, ‘On The Level’. This instantly caused the crowd to cheer and move simultaneously with the music. Upon it’s conclusion, Mac reached for his guitar and without hesitation got stuck into crowd favourite, ‘Salad Days’. This beauty is the title track of his second studio album. Only two songs in and the eager crowd were well and truly warmed up. 

DeMarco interacted with his devoted audience and spoke of his overwhelming happiness to be back in Melbourne. Mac did pay his respects to those affected by the devastating fires that are burning across Australia. Last week Mac announced that he would be putting on a fundraiser the Sunday at Victoria Park, Grill For Good. Along with a giant list of friends including Amyl & The Sniffers, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Alice Skye, Pond, Remi and more, Mac will be raising money for the Fire Relief Fund and Wildlife Victoria. It is special to see these international artists take the time to set up something like this fundraiser during their time in Australia.

The energy going around the hall throughout his set was so obvious. It didn’t matter where you were in the hall, the excitement was floating from the front to the very back! The feels were ramped up even higher when Mac and his band belted out alternative version of ‘My Old Man’, and an absolute killer performance of ‘Ode To Viceroy’. This track being a love song dedication to his favourite brand of cigarettes.

The enthusiastic crowd were given a dose of DeMarco’s new work. Hearing these songs live for the first time, the crowd took positively to his new tracks ‘Here Comes The Cowboy’ and an extended version of ‘Choo Choo’. Given the reaction at the conclusion of each song, it would’ve appeared clear to DeMarco that the crowd liked what they were hearing and seeing.

Those of you who aren’t familiar with DeMarco’s music, he is a very unique individual with alternative ideas. This is reflected in his music, making it also very distinctive and different. One song that you are likely to have heard at least once without realising it is the catchy tune of ‘Freaking Out The Neighbourhood’. The story behind this one is apologising to family. Mac revealed in an interview a number of years ago that one of the influential stories behind this song is the time that he ended up getting really drunk at Karaoke. Mac explained, “all my clothes came off, beer got poured over me, percussive instrument tools found their way into my butt and my friend took a video of the thing.” “I thought it’d be funny, but it goes on YouTube and my aunt sees it, and my whole family. And they were not too pleased.”

As the end of the set became evident, the energy was still very much there. The end of the night saw an exceptional performance of ‘Chamber Of Reflection’, but it wasn’t quite over yet. Mac returned on stage for an encore and busted out an awesome Medley consisting of Weezer’s ‘Undone’, Nirvana’s ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and Aussie Icons AC/DC’s, ‘Thunderstruck’.

The crowd were chanting and yelling for more, so it was only fair that the Mac Daddy came back for a second encore! The final two songs for this notable evening were ‘Still Together’ and ‘Watching Him Fade Away’, a favourite off his third record, This Old Dog

Mac really set the bar with this performance. Fans will have to wait to see how it compares to the next time he visits! 

HERE COMES MAC DEMARCO will wrap up in Perth next Saturday in Perth. 

Mac DeMarco – Salad Days (Live at Laneway Melbourne)