[Written By: Emma Lees]
DIY slacker rock hero Mac Demarco played his hotly anticipated date on the last Friday of November at The Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow as part of his This Old Dog tour. Set to be eclectic mix of psychedelic garage music sloped with jazzy overtones and heinous onstage antics – it did not disappoint. Well known for the stream of trippy slow paced romantic records he releases which lie in stark contrast to the boyish and downright vulgar behaviour in his videos and in front of the crowd. With a goofy Lloyd Christmas Canadian charm, endearingly softly spoken voice and low maintenance modus operandi, he’s become a hero for anyone who’s ever felt weird and liked it.
Speaking deeper from the heart each album, the music of Mac Demarco has grown in sync with his mind over the past ten years, changing from the jokes of a late teenager to the longing of a near thirty something. The set took us through all of Mac’s most renowned discography, kicking off with On the Level it wasn’t long before a heartfelt This Old Dog singalong filled the cavernous ceiling and the lungs of all those in attendance. Fans were treated to the tender, smoother electric piano arrangements and jangle pop indie anthems Freakin’ Out the Neighbourhood, Cooking Up Something Good and Ode to Viceroy; favourites not only for their catchy looping notes but for the laid back nonchalant lyrics, exploring recklessness with enough introspection to resonate loudly with a packed venue of twenty-somethings. The swaying crowd was settled with growing pain jaded songs like Let Her Go, Salad Days and Another Love Song; music of a more emotionally narrative playing style and more relatable story teller, felt through the highs and lows of Mac Demarco’s lilting guitar and found in the words echoed by the crowd. Easily condensing nostalgia into fuzzy five letter lines, he no longer hides behind the playful comedic distance of his earlier work. The impact he has is visually powerful; the venue was filled to the brim of mini-Mac’s with layered shirts, caps and boat shoes in abundancy, singing every word faster than the artist himself. Perhaps an even stronger indication of his ability to pull fan firmly into his moment was the utterly enchanting draught of phone screens being directed at the stage.
Occasionally broken up by a headstand or a swig of Buckfast, Demarco’s stage demeanour is far from the brooding that might be expected with the subject matter of This Old Dog, and yet still far from the sloppiness that disappointed fans and critics alike with his previous few tours. With fingers firmly pointed at alcohol consumption, the tightness of Mac’s setlists have come under criticism, albeit still a revealing and honest reaction to playing so many shows so far from home, one not often discussed. Released May 2017 the album revisited a collection of songs written and disregarded for recording, later developed into the most unfiltered personal material released by Mac. This Old Dog is a far less spacy brand of funky folk-rock than albums like 2 and Salad Days which left fans wondering whether they were descending into a K-hole or just baking in their kitchen on a Sunday morning. The songs are far more to the point, a new atmosphere to fill the space left by the more psychedelic aspects of earlier songs like Chamber of Reflection and Moonlight by the River, still loved dearly enough to cause a frenzy with their opening chords. Despite the more sombre tone of the album, the gig was entirely still a party nobody wanted to leave. The intimate, solid characters featured throughout the set – the estranged father in My Old Man, the long-distance relationship of For the First Time and the apology in Still Beating were all surprisingly far from depriving the crowd of any energy or rowdiness. Closing with Still Together, members of the band swapped instrument mid-song to play a juxtaposing series of cover songs like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Under the Bridge, The La’s There She Goes and of course 50 Cent’s In Da Club. Returning to finish Still Together, the set came to an end with members of the crowd already screaming ‘When will you come back?’.