If the rising star of slacker-rock king Mac Demarco was in any doubt, that was laid to rest last night as a sold-out crowd packed the upper and lower decks of House of Blues
to witness a 90-minute set of the songwriter’s laid-back tunes and odd antics.
DeMarco’s tour comes in support of his latest album, This Old Dog
, and he played with Tonstartssbandht, a two-piece jam band that features DeMarco’s lead guitarist, Andy White, and White’s brother, Edwin.
A throng of millennials in cuffed jeans and thrift-store baseball caps snaked from the House of Blues’ entrance down East Fourth to Flannery’s Pub as early as an hour before the opening act kicked off the show. Though the crowd gave openers Tonstartssbandht a warm welcome, patrons made it clear whom they had come to see once the Whites cleared the stage, as chants of “We Want Mac” drowned out the ambient music that played before DeMarco appeared.
DeMarco and Co. – his live act features a second guitarist, drummer, bassist and keyboard player – channeled the crowd’s enthusiasm off the bat, opening with a fan-favorite, “Salad Days,” before launching into lesser-known territory from This Old Dog. Between songs, DeMarco behaved like a maestro, hand raised and beaming as he orchestrated the sort of endearingly odd banter that fans have come to expect.
The band has become much more polished since DeMarco’s earliest releases, which were colored by sloppy play. But the singer’s vocal delivery last night was the show’s strongest element; DeMarco’s soft crooning could soar when needed, proven on songs such as “Chamber of Reflection” and “This Old Dog,” but he often interjected his singing with sudden gruffness or high-pitched squealing to keep the crowd entertained.
Such weirdness was present throughout the show, and, on occasion, featured the fans. As the band played its older hit “Ode to Viceroy,” a tribute to a brand of cheap cigarettes, fans tossed smokes onto the stage. At another point toward the end of the set, Andy White led the crowd in a screaming contest.
White and DeMarco paired to lead the concert’s final, bizarre act: in lieu of an encore, the band interrupted its final song, “Still Together,” with a breakdown that devolved into DeMarco standing atop his amp and feigning dry heaves as he made incredulous faces at White, who relentlessly blared high-pitched guitar tones.
But DeMarco, who can be seen online getting naked on stage during past live performances, kept things PG-13 after 10 minutes of their “jamming,” as he hopped off the amp to finish out the song and end the set with the kind of awkward panache that his fans paid to see.
In a crisp 45-minute opening set, the White brothers of Tonstartssbandht played songs from the band’s first full-length album, Sorcerer
. Their sound, soft and soulful one minute and more raw and intense the next, proved to be a fine primer that amped the crowd for DeMarco’s set.