Words and Photos by Kieran Webber
This past weekend I packed my bags and headed up to the city of Bristol to see one of my favorite artists, Mac Demarco. For a long time I have enjoyed Macs music and have long considered him one of the best songwriters of the 21st century, so as you can imagine I was very excited to experience it live. I was also eager to hear support act Montero whom I had only discovered days before the event. Both artists put on a fantastic show that was full of beautiful music, goofs and laughter.
Walking down to the venue there was a clear sense of anticipation as eager fans queued in the brisk weather, the young audience was clearly eager to see the iconic artist. As I take my place in the queue and wait for doors to open I turn my head to the left and see a hooded person walk hurriedly to the entrance, to my surprise and excitement I realise who it is, it’s Mac himself and his bandmates. As he walks past I give him a little smile which he returns, I feel warm. He continues his stride towards his destination and as he does so gives out a few high fives to fans that have realized who it is and within moments he disappears into the venue.
As time goes by the doors open and the to be audience is slowly let into the venue, massive props to security and the Bristol o2 staff for managing to do this in such a safe and secure manner.
The o2 Academy in Bristol is an interesting venue to say the least, it is halfway between a music hall and nightclub. The main pit is surrounded by stairs that lead to the upper level. I looked up and to my surprise, i saw people hanging from the rafters and staircases.
The venue started to fill up quickly and in no time the support act Montero made it’s way onto the stage. Their outlandish sound was matched by their outfits, the guitarist came out with a red Merry Christmas cowboy hat and donned a bin bag whilst the keyboard player was dressed like a hippie father Christmas. Montero‘s sound can be described as ethereal space pop that is draped in a cape of surreal emotion, it’s intense, beautiful and certianly in a league of its own.
Their set had many highlights but personally the stand out tracks were ‘Adrianna’, ‘Vibrations’ and the electrifying ‘Tokin The Night Away’.
Next up was the one and only Mac Demarco, as the lights dimmed a snarling voice could be heard and in classic comedic Mac he introduced his band one by one with the grand finale being him. He slowly grooved his way onto stage with a pack of Stella Artois tinnies and within moments the familiar synth sound of ‘On The Level’ begun to fill the room. Mac swayed and swerved around the stage with a grin beaming off his face, pointing at crowd members and generally sharing the stoke. The audience reciprocated their appreciation with cheers, laughs and screams as well as a few goofy items such as gnarled sun glasses and a can of baked beans. Naturally Mac and the band found this to be hilarious.
As the set went on we were treated to a whole platter of delicious songs from Macs discography, it was pretty much the perfect setlist that included songs new and old. They played the classics such as ‘Salad Days’, ‘Ode To Viceroy’ and ‘My Kind Of Woman’ as well as a couple of unexpected songs such as ‘Freaking Out The Neighbourhood’ and ‘No Other Heart’. As is expected from Mac there was plenty of humour in between certain tracks especially when they attempted to cover Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’. As well as banter with the audience and sound technicians and of course amongst themselves.
As the set came to a close Mac and the band played beautiful renditions of their slower more emotive tracks, such as ‘Moonlight On The River’, ‘Chamber Of Reflection’ and ‘Still Together’. As you can imagine the final track had everyone blowing their lungs out along with Mac.
It wasn’t long before Mac was up to his usual antics as the last twenty minutes of the set turned into a massive goof. They covered a huge array of songs from Black Sabbath‘s ‘Paranoid’ (where he changed the lyrics to Ham and Cheese Sandwich), Van Halen‘s ‘Running With The Devil’ (where Mac demonstrated his athletic skills) and at one point the drummer took to the mic to play 50 Cent‘s ‘Candy Shop’ and some Smashing Pumpkin tracks. They also slipped in covers of The Darkness, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Rage Against The Machine.
Across the two hour set I was treated to a wide variety of Mac’s music as well as a tasting of his notorious goofy persona. I got exactly what I came for and I walked away with content filling my belly. I strongly urge you to see the guy when he rolls through your town, you will not be disappointed and you will certianly leave a happier person.