Mac's back, baby, Mac's back.
It’s the return of the Mac. Canadian slack-rock goofball and cult hero Mac DeMarco performed at Dorset’s End of the Road, one of the UK’s most genteel festivals, in 2015 – and, amazingly, they’ve let him back in.
The man who infamously once stuck a drumstick up his bum onstage is not a well-behaved man (earlier this year he stripped down to his pants at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound festival and proceeded to smash up the stage). His folk-pop music is earnest, unabashedly sentiment and quietly beautiful – yet Mac’s persona is that of a slacker frat-boy untethered from the bounds of good taste. And that’s what makes him so compelling. If he was just a soppy dude crooning love songs with an acoustic guitar, you wouldn’t give a shit. If he was just the gross-out slacker guy he pretends to be – same deal. But that inherent contradiction is where the sweet stuff lies.
There’s no nudity tonight and, for the most part, Mac behaves himself. Opening with ‘On The Level’, taken from latest album ‘This Old Dog’ – which many found to be more mature than his previous work – he segues into ‘Salad Days’, whose playful “La la la la la / La la la la la” refrain incites a weird kind of gremlin chorus singalong from the audience; an indication of the freewheeling feeling he inspires. And then the most Mac DeMarco thing ever happens: he introduces the delicate and emotionally intelligent alt-pop ballad ‘Another One with the words “This next song is a love song” and belches in the middle of the sentence.
Tonight’s headline show on The Wood Stage is book-ended by sweet, sincere material, with a foray into bizarre, stoner-ish digressions (repeating the word “Yorkshire” for no reason, delivering a half-rap about his girlfriend) in the mid-section. It’s fun for the most part but by the time he launches into a deeply half-arsed cover of Vanessa Carlton’s (stone-cold classic) ‘A Thousand Miles’, but sings the same line – “Makin’ my way downtown” – throughout, you’re like, “Dude, try harder – and if you’re not gonna try harder, just don’t fuck with Vanessa.”
Overall, this is a fun and likeable show from a guy who’s literally at the end of the road (Mac’s European festival jaunt ends tonight). The set certainly wasn’t polished, but at least he kept his trousers on.