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Mac DeMarco, Alex Calder, Wand at Commodore Ballroom

Thursday 05th, November 2015 / 12:23
By Joshua Erickson
Mac Demarco at Commodore Ballroom. Photo: Jake Holmes

Mac DeMarco at Commodore Ballroom.
Photo: Jake Holmes

October 31, 2015

VANCOUVER — Rock shows on Halloween are a pretty common occurrence, but this Halloween the Commodore Ballroom hosted the rare all-ages afternoon show. After playing a 19-plus evening gig the night before, the Commodore opened its doors just after 2:30 p.m. to a long line of clearly under-19-year-olds waiting to get in (because, seriously, who over 19 arrives at a concert before doors open?) and see the gap-toothed wonder himself, Mac DeMarco. Boasting a wide range of costumes — including one guy as mad scientist “Rick” from TV’s Rick and Morty (waba-luba-dubdub!) and a notable Nardwuar costume — the crowd was clearly enthusiastic from the get-go.

Starting just after 3:00 p.m. was LA’s heavy psych-rockers Wand — who apparently arrived 15 minutes before their set was supposed to start. You would never have been able to tell though, as the band breezed through their crushingly heavy and refreshingly groovy set without a hitch. Wand’s brand of blissed-out fuzzy garage-psych rock was an immediate crowd pleaser to the early (but still packed) crowd at the Commodore, as audience members danced and head-banged their afternoon worries away.

Next up was Alex Calder, friend and former bandmate of Mac DeMarco —Calder played drums in Makeout Videotape — spurring talk of a mini-Makeout Videotape reunion at the show. While no-such reunion happened, Calder proved he himself has some songwriting chops himself — even if he now shares DeMarco’s laid-back slacker/songwriter style.

For a show not selling alcohol, the energy did not lack in the room, as the notably young-looking crowd looked like they were going to explode with tension waiting for Mr. DeMarco to hit the stage.

Mac Demarco at Commodore Ballroom. Photo: Jake Holmes

Mac DeMarco at Commodore Ballroom.
Photo: Jake Holmes

Sure enough, just after 4:30 p.m., the lights went down and Mac DeMarco and his band were met with a rapturous applause. Entering the stage to doomy sounding satanic church music, the lights turned out to reveal Mac’s Halloween costume — a nun. Opening with new album single “The Way You’d Love Her,” Mac himself seemed surprised and joyed as the audience sang every single word of the song along with him. The show continued much in the same fashion throughout. Say what you want about all ages shows — the kids have less pretension, are less self-conscious and were not afraid to sing and dance to their hearts’ content because of it. No alcohol be damned!

DeMarco himself was as charming and funny as ever. The man is built for entertaining audiences and he and his band are tighter than ever. It may sound like an odd contradiction, “tight slacker-rock,” but Mac DeMarco and his band really are a well-oiled live unit who operate at a higher level while playing together.

The show was not without its hijinks of course, as throughout the night, audience members threw items onstage for Mac to wear adding to his nun costume. This all culminated toward the end of the set, with Mac reaching out to catch an unknown flying object that turned out to be a bra. Looking shocked — and, frankly, a bit worried — Mac tried to put the bra away and was met by a loud chant from the crowd. “WEAR IT! WEAR IT! WEAR IT!” Mac laughed and, giving in, put the bra on over his outfit to the amusement of the crowd. Ending the show with his biggest “hit” to date, “Still Together,” the fantastic song was almost de-railed by a sudden crowd stage invasion, which saw probably 100-plus people up onstage. It was a thrilling and slightly confusing end to the show, which matched the atmosphere perfectly. Turns out, the kids are alright.

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