Mac DeMarco: Indie’s biggest mischief plays it straight in scintillating Other Stage set

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Mac DeMarco might in a spot of bother, here. It’s a hot one out today, but somehow he’s caught a cold. He’s sniffing, coughing and clearly frustrated at the situation, and why wouldn’t he? The Other Stage (June 27) is an indie-haven todaywith Tame Impala, Two Door Cinema Club, The Wombats and others, with his mid-afternoon set comfortably drawing one of the stage’s biggest crowds of the day. Tomorrow, he moves over to Margate to hold his own festival at the iconic Dreamland venue. It’s no time to come down with a lurgy.

Mac DeMarco

As such, today’s viewing is considerably more restrained compared to previous shows. Yes, there’s still handstands, sly in-jokes between the band and an array of grunts, yelps and cries. But there’s no covers that descend into a complete farce or drumsticks near, or in, anyone’s anus. We got the best of Mac today, despite the circumstances.

Because when Mac is on form and locked in like today, few can rival him for the amount of feel-good indie-pop heaters. There’s the head-bobbing ‘Salad Days’ and ‘Stars Keep On Calling My Name’, which benefit from their fleshed-out new live production. Similarly, new songs from ‘Here Comes The Cowboy’ go down a treat, despite his desperation during ‘Nobody’, where he jokingly begs the crowd to sing along. They’re still winning over die-hard and casuals, considering the slower pace, but it won’t be long until they’re adored in the same way.

Mac DeMarco

His songwriting has grown up, and so has his approach to playing live. Previously he’d be among the crowd and as giddy as his youthful fanbase, but things have mellowed out now. He’s just as comfortable without a guitar, and some of those moments when he gets to roam the stage are the set’s finest. ‘All Of Our Yesterdays’, a gorgeous number from his latest album, is where his powerful live voice is allowed to blossom.

But it’s still a bloody hoot, though. ‘Choo Choo’ is funk-laden jam that teeters on the edge of chaos, always just about saving his bacon. Meanwhile, the chunky hard-rock breakdown in the middle of the set’s final song ‘Together’ is a wicked piece of instrumentation. If you passed by the field a few times in the space of his set, there’s enough variety to think that there’s three different bands playing.

Mac DeMarco

In the long-run, its hard to know which side of Mac is going to win. There was a point where the goof-ball shtick seemed poised to overshadow this slacker icon’s work, while the mature side could dampen the personality that’s gathered him that following. For the foreseeable future, it looks like he’s finally hit the right balance.

Mac DeMarco played:

On A Level
Salad Days
Nobody
Choo Choo
Cooking Up Something Good
My Old Man
Another One
Viceroy
Finally Alone
All Of Our Yesterdays
Chamber Of Reflection
Together