When you go to too many concerts, they can begin to feel like a business exchange. The crowd gets a good show, the performer gets paid, and there's no deeper connection between the two. Then you have Mac Demarco. A total showman who has a deep love for his girlfriend and for his fans, his performance at Valley Bar on Monday, November 12, was a weird, goofy, and funny experience that brought everyone present closer together.
Due to the size of the crowd, the show took place not in the bar itself but in the chilly alley outside. The crowd came dressed in edgy hipster wear and delivered nothing but chill vibes, the packed-in showgoers almost forced to socialize, laughing and talking prior to the show’s beginning.
Demarco was supposed to start at 7:30 p.m. but ended up going on closer to 8. We waited, standing around anxiously, either talking to the people around or simply glaring at the cold, empty stage while listening to drunken banter. Then Demarco finally showed up in a striped shirt, fisherman’s vest, and a washed-out, reddish hat in his signature laid-back style. Something was a bit off, however: There was no band on stage.
Demarco usually has a band perform with him while he tours, but this show was different. It was just him.
Rather than take a whole band with him, for this, the first stop on his Purple Bobcat Next to the River Tour, he decided to fly solo. Equipped with a keyboard and a guitar that he claimed he “bought off a guy named Ruben in L.A.,” the singer explained that, “When you have a band, that kind of shit, you have to teach these people how to play these songs, and sometimes, I just can’t be bothered.” His charm was so effective that no one seemed to care that he was 30 minutes late.
The show kicked off with “Salad Days” and set the tone for rest of the performance: mellow and peaceful. Everybody was singing along to the slower, acoustic versions of his tracks as he danced around on stage, never missing a beat. He did forget the lyrics to “One Another,” but the crowd helped him out. Audience participation was actually a big part of the show: Since Demarco doesn’t have a band to accompany him, he would ask that the crowd provide the missing tunes and guitar solos by singing them.
Something as odd as that could only be possible in such an intimate setting, because it gave Demarco the opportunity to get closer to the crowd, cracking jokes and bantering with the fans, at one point even getting everyone to sing “Happy Birthday” to a girl in the front. He declared that he would play as many songs as he could remember, and if the fans felt upset when he skipped a song they wanted to hear, they could just shout it out. Audience requests included “My Kind of Woman” and deep cut “Sherrill.”
Demarco ended his set with “Still Together” and dedicated it to his girlfriend Kiera, who he briefly pulled onstage. The crowd sang along, and Demarco was so excited that he urged everyone to get louder, jumped off the stage, and crowd-surfed through the alley. It was a beautiful end to a spectacular, unconventional evening.
The Show: Mac Demarco's Purple Bobcat Next to the River Tour at Valley Bar.
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The Crowd: Hipsters, hipsters everywhere. Well-dressed, bundled-up, multiethnic people in their 20s and 30s.
Overheard: Too much banter to pick just one line, but one zany story about Marilyn Monroe sticks out.
Random Notebook Dump: One of our reporters may or may not have touched Mac's butt while he was crowd-surfing.
Douglas Markowitz contributed to the Critic's Notebook section for this story.