Mac DeMarco has gone from house shows to teen idol status in less than two years. His show at Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club on Saturday was the last of the current leg of a marathon world tour he’s been on since he played at Baltimore’s Copycat in October of 2012. His relentless schedule has made him stronger and his fans more insane. DeMarcomania. I was in the bathroom during one of the openers, and a guy comes up to me eyes wide right as I zip up, and asks, “Hey, did you see Mac up on the balcony?” Spotted and starstruck. Fucking awesome. Even though I’m not a superfan, I love that he’s a superstar. Most of my friends are huge devotees, while others don’t understand why he’s so popular, and gets followed around by 200 kids at a time and adored by hundreds of thousands of kids with posters on their wall. I don’t know the deep cuts at all. I loved the inescapable “Ode to Viceroy,” “My Kind of Woman,” and “Freaking Out the Neighborhood” from first listen. Add “Salad Days,” “Passing Out Pieces,” and “Chamber of Reflection” now, from April’s Salad Days. But his best song is “Baby’s Wearing Blue Jeans,” from Rock ’N’ Roll Night Club, a perfect piece of porno pervo sleaze rock, the quintessential “jizz jazz” song, catchy as hell and with all of its moving parts recorded and tape shifted to different speeds, aligning in this sound that’s in tune but not. DeMarco—who writes and records all his music and plays with a backing band—is a *bong rip* total tone wizard in the jizz jazz studios, as he said in his Pitchfork documentary Pepperoni Playboy, “These kids need to get a fucking tape machine, get your head out of that Ableton shit.”
The sold-out crowd sang along loudly to every word to every song, swaying, embracing, moshing, crowdsurfing, doing miniature waves, and actually pulling out the lighters for their glorious Coldplay cover, “Yellow.” Dozens of cigarettes were thrown on stage during “Ode to Viceroy.” It was crazy and great. Mac DeMarco is just another example of respecting one’s audience. That Gen X fake reluctance to fame is completely dead. If you disrespect your fans, jerk them around, give them a hard time, or fail to pretend you even give a shit, that you’re not punching a clock, half of them won’t be there for your next album. Most of my friends who don’t dig him don’t get why such a normal dude with more breezy pop songs is a minor sensation. DeMarco is a cartoon character, and he loves it, and feeds on it. It’s probably not far from how he feels as a person, which makes for a good rock star.
He came out on stage and screamed “WAZZZUP????!!!!” to hysteria—two songs later he was leaning into the front row, guitar aloft, tongue wagging, shredding. This show had the same positive feedback loop between an enthusiastic performer completely in control and a rapt, knowledgeable crowd of the amazing of Montreal gig I saw at the Ottobar in May, but DeMarco’s music doesn’t hit the spot the for me the same way Barnes & co. do, or Ariel Pink for that matter. The concert blended together—purple and blue-flanged guitar leads, gauzy synths, and DeMarco’s soft, low croon. The encore—Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”—went on for about 15 minutes, with band members switching instruments and friends and touring mates jumping out in the crowd. If you can’t see DeMarco’s appeal, then you’re just not paying attention. It’s the James Bond thing: women want him, men want to be him, or at least hang out with him and smoke a bowl or something. That’s the kind of scene going on here. He’s your older brother, your weirdo friend, your cool boyfriend. His personality is as responsible for his popularity as his music, and he’s killing it.
—Follow Nicky Smith on Twitter: @MUGGER1992