Live Review: Mac DeMarco with Alex Calder and The Courtneys at The Moore 10/29/15

Live Reviews
11/18/2015
Geran Landen
all photos by Matthew B. Thompson (view set)

Mac DeMarco is a walking contradiction. He's a hardworking slacker, a popular outsider, and his newest release Another One is laden with carefree melancholy. His shows have always been a celebration of his refusal to fit any sort of vague mold, and the fans that aspire to do the same. Thursday night at The Moore found Mac moving up the ranks of Seattle venues, and having no trouble filling the bigger Moore. He has always inspired a dedicated fan base, and after The Courtneys and Alex Calder got the night going, Mac DeMarco showed exactly why that is. The Courtneys kicked off what was to be a memorable night at the Moore, serving as a pleasant surprise for those who got to the venue early. Hailing from Vancouver, BC, the group makes hazy guitar driven pop that listens like a middle ground between Chastity Belt and Tacocat. Needless to say, they were well received, and their set cast many hooks that meandered through my mind days after the show.

Alex Calder served as the second installment of Canadian talent for the night, coming on stage as a four-piece. Their music contains the same laid back meandering that serves as the backbone for Mac DeMarco’s output, but with more experimentation. The result was not always positive, with some songs getting drowned out by a lack of cohesion, but it was well worth it for the moments where the band that clicked, providing the crowd with plucky guitar driven songs that held plenty of abstract underlying sonic texture. The band left the venue with plenty of new fans, and it seems likely that Seattle will soon hear from Alex Calder again.

Alex Calder:

What is love? It's a question that wandered through the night like the guitar riffs in a Mac DeMarco song. It protruded into the audiences mind at the start of Mac's set in the form of Haddaway's classic hit. But it remained throughout, as Mac ran through many tracks from his newest release, Another One, an EP that tackles both heartbreak and love songs, showing that even the hipster hero's brand of chill is not immune to matters of the heart. Mac and his band worked through a catalog of songs at workman like pace, stopping only to make jokes and let dancing spidermen onto the stage. Mac DeMarco's band mates chatted and made off-kilter jokes throughout, but there was a clear distinction of atmosphere in the crowd when he talked; the Moore ate it up and listened to his every word. This admiration and respect was returned in full, with Mac DeMarco conversing with the crowd, rather than talking at it.

Mac DeMarco took the stage as a five piece, plus an additional member who came in half way through to keep the rhythm with a banana shaker (possibly just a banana). For an act that creates such laid back music, there was an extraordinary amount of crowd surfing and guitar shredding, with Mac and his other guitarist both breaking strings after a particularly fierce breakdown. In a night where the unusual was normalized, Mac's tour manager coming out to ask the crowd to host an after party was accepted without the bat of an eye. In many other instances a move like this would come off as shady, but Mac DeMarco created a sense of community from the beginning of the show, preventing any bad feelings from arising. Mac DeMarco makes great music, make no mistake. But after his performance at The Moore it is clear that his passionate fan base is fueled by his effort to connect and include them in his musical adventures. As he came back on stage to "try something new" for the encore, Haddaway's "What is Love?" blasted through the speakers once again. A minimally-clothed Mac DeMarco, his band, the openers and a selection of fans danced to the song on stage, and the crowd danced right along; ending the night with mutual love from the artist and his fans, both for the music and the people in the building.

Mac DeMarco:

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