The scene at Rickshaw Stop on Wednesday night was much different than on September 14, 2012, the first time Mac DeMarco headlined the venue. Last year’s Friday night gathering attracted around one-hundred people, half of which were there to see Stockton’s Surf Club. Last night was a whole different story. The crowd steadily filled into the sold out venue starting when Calvin Love took the stage at 8:20, until 11:30 when DeMarco exited. Local bands Cocktails and Trails and Ways filled in the middle sets.
DeMarco had noticeably cut his hair and changed his clothes since a delightfully delirious set at SXSW last month. His set, though, was almost identical to the one he played last fall, with a couple of big differences. The four-piece band played against a visual backdrop which spliced together home movies of the band with found footage from parties and pranks. The frontman told the crowd that his bassist Pierce McGarry threw together the video upstairs before the show. Starting off with “I’m A Man,” DeMarco, McGarry, lead guitarist Peter Sugar and a drummer rushed through songs from Rock and Roll Night Club and 2, with all the ironic humor and confident showmanship that we’ve come to expect from this buzz band over the course of a year.
Anyone who has seen DeMarco this year has probably been treated to at least one or two covers. This time, the band exposed the crowd to its full suite of ironic influences. Teasing the intro to Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” before “Freaking Out the Neighborhood” was only the beginning. After “My Kind of Women,” DeMarco alternated between his own “She’s Really All I Need” and a jammy melody of snippets covering bands such as Limp Bizkit, Rammstein, Rob Zombie, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Metallica, The Beatles, Tool, The Police, AC/DC, and finally George Michael’s “Careless Whisper.”
Yeah. Pardon me if I missed any. Needless to say, it was an epic finale, capped off with the band’s typical closer “Still Together,” during which fans literally busted out their lighters, a classic concert tradition that I haven’t witnessed in almost ten years. DeMarco crowdsurfed and said we were all “very cool” before he announced that Van Halen was up next (and that he needed a floor to crash on).
Oakland’s Trails and Ways started with a group-hug and played a safe and enjoyable set, accompanied by images of nature. The sound may have been less than perfect at times, but the quartet’s tropical, Latin-tinged pop vibes got the crowd moving. The final songs were dedicated to the Occupy Oakland movement and the Berkeley Hills.
San Francisco’s Cocktails also performed a more than tolerable set, backed by solid drums and guitars. The band played sunny California pop-rock jams, with shaky harmonies that smoothed out throughout the performance.
Edmonton’s Calvin Love started off the evening accompanied by a drummer and Peter Sugar on bass. Love led a set of reverb-soaked highway rock, alternating between guitar and synth against a psychedelic video backdrop which included shots of the Bay Bridge.
Mac DeMarco opened a sold out gig with Phoenix at The Independent on Monday, and will perform a free show with Calvin Love at SFSU’s The Depot on Thursday, April 4.