On Saturday night, more than 500 devoted Mac DeMarco fans, clad in baseball caps and Vans, flocked to a last-minute performance at The Bowery Ballroom. This followed his biggest New York City performance yet at Radio City Musical Hall the night before.
California-based punk band The Garden, costumed as court jesters complete with makeup, opened the show and set an animated and energetic tone for the rest of the night. The crowd was rowdy — singing, moshing, dancing, pushing, chanting and crowd-surfing in one collective mob. DeMarco played a two-hour set of new songs from his May release, “This Old Dog,” as well as many old favorites and multiple covers. At the end of the show, the band returned to perform a lengthy medley of songs ranging from “Runnin’ with the Devil” and “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” to a unique rendition of “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton.
DeMarco’s shows are notoriously offbeat, to the delight of his fans. Saturday’s show was no exception. He was extremely interactive with the crowd, and the crowd was eager to call back. He rattled off joke after joke, many of which were New York-centric, harkening back to his fond memories as a New York resident. These elements created a casual and, therefore, intimate concert environment.
Fans regularly crowd-surfed toward the stage to the point where DeMarco began pushing them back in good spirit. A couple slow-danced to “This Old Dog,” two boys played the shaker for “My Old Man” with guitarist Andy White and one girl commandeered the stage to belt the end of “Chamber of Reflection.”
In the last half of the show, DeMarco flung himself into the crowd and floated toward the balcony, reaching up and then climbing to greet his friends and family gathered there. From above, he entertained his audience, precariously perched and holding onto the railings as he danced and spit water into the fans, who pressed in closer, preparing to catch him again when the time came.
The set felt less like a traditional show and more like a jam session for the band, as they stretched out songs and wove in covers at whim. Further demonstrating the freeform structure of the night, at one point DeMarco swapped roles with drummer Joe McMurray who dove into the ocean of fans and eventually began singing his own version of Crazy Town’s “Butterfly.”
DeMarco commanded the attention of his audience, encouraging fans to repeat after him and sing along loudly or quietly and quieter when the song required it. After the series of covers alternately sung by him and his band members, DeMarco came back onstage for one last song during the encore. He crouched down, and his fans mimicked the stance. To a nearly silent audience, he sang a few verses of “Watching Him Fade Away” until he finally brought the crowd back in to help him finish out the song, and then the night. With that, DeMarco himself slowly faded out (though he was more than happy to meet lucky fans who waited for him after the show).
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 25 print edition.
Email Jillian Harrington at [email protected]