Published Nov 03, 2015For plenty of western Canadian music fans, seeing Mac DeMarco, Alex Calder and the members of the Courtneys play in one band or another has been a part of life for the last decade or so.
You might have caught DeMarco in his early group Outdoor Miners, seen him perform alongside Calder in Makeout Videotape, or caught the Courtneys' Sydney Koke and Jen Twynn Payne in their prior punk band Puberty. Not five years ago, you would've shared a beer with them at a house show or watched them perform at a mid-sized bar, but those days are long gone.
Last night (November 2), the Courtneys, Alex Calder and the larger-than-life Mac DeMarco instead shared a bill at Calgary's cavernous MacEwan Hall — a giant, booming space on the University of Calgary campus. Its setting, along with its early start time and all-ages status, meant the show was packed with DeMarco's current acolytes, a mixture of Tumblr teens dressed to the nines in manicured normcore outfits and more casual music fans looking to match faces to their "good tunes" Rdio playlist.
While that may have meant a more polite reception for the openers, it also resulted in borderline Beatles screams when Mac DeMarco and his band entered the stage to the Calgary theme song (which actually belongs to about a dozen other cities). Their hero, a true indie rock personality at this point, had arrived.
The at-capacity venue shrieked and hollered every time DeMarco made one of his trademark yelps or goofy dance moves, then flipped on a dime to sing along to the sweet serenades of his EP and three studio albums. They tolerated a riff-heavy, jazzed-out rendition of Steely Dan's "Reelin' in the Years" (a song they'd likely never heard at their ages) and thrashed along to a seriously scuzzed-out cover of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" (the band's triumphant finale).
Thing is, Mac DeMarco and his band (the exceptional and equally charismatic Andy White on lead guitar and Pierce McGarry on bass, backed by the relentlessly chill Joe McMurray on drums and keyboardist Jon Lent) have always been ready for an audience this size. Their goofy antics are truly, endearingly entertaining, and they complement the soft-rock guitar solos and earnest melodies rather than distract from them.
Though McGarry spent most of the set shouting out Kokanee and throwing full, unopened beers into the crowd, he was just as relatable as a sincere dude taking the bass for a walk on a chill, cheesy love song.
Ultimately, that served as a perfect reminder why Mac DeMarco and his crew are so downright lovable. Though they were performing in a gymnasium-sized echo chamber that'd normally house NOFX, they made it feel as fun, intimate and sporadic as the house shows they came up playing.