LIVE: M For Montreal pres. Mac DeMarco & Guests

A modest Mac appeared from his sofa especially for the 4-day industry festival, providing a much-needed injection of autumnal optimism.
Posted: 24 November 2020 Words: Ellis Maddison

Cross-legged and sockless, Mac DeMarco virtually welcomed M For Montreal attendees and Mac fans alike to a fisheye view of his clustered, unsurprisingly messy Los Angeles studio, and it was like seeing a close friend for the first time in a while. 

From left to right: a semi-assembled drum kit, rain chimes, a classic recording tape spool and an array of cacti and plants on a window shelf made up Mac’s surroundings. The glorious LA sun cascaded over the Canadian, who sat on a blue sofa with his acoustic and ever-present snapback. His warm, husky voice spoken into a reverb-heavy mic is more than a fitting listen for a Sunday afternoon on the porch with a coffee. That’s even before he started playing. 

“To kick it off I’m gonna play some songs that I do remember how to play, I think”, said Mac after initially explaining he’d been a “bit rusty” having not played live in nine months. True to his word, Mac didn’t bother with lyrics and improvised sweetly-hummed murmurs for what is arguably his iconic song, ‘Salad Days’. Regardless, the song remained beautiful, instantly reminiscent of summertime and warming the heart; creating a soundscape aptly fitting of a slow-motion ‘falling-in-love’ scene, if you like. 

“I’ve also just woken up, and my voice is crusty”, Mac goes on to say, before beginning his next tune. Despite his candour, the inherent optimism, expert song-writing and freeness of soul that Mac conveys in his music - all encompassed in his performance of ‘This Old Dog’ - is still transportive. Mac slyly looks at the camera as he sings the lyrics “...about to forget”, while quite literally almost forgetting them. “Hey! Okay! I remembered”, he exclaims at the end, acting genuinely surprised. It’s this honest, down-to-earth demeanour and loveable nature that’s a major cog in his unparalleled ability to make you feel as though it’s just you and him in a room together, whether that be when watching him on a livestream or at a festival alongside thousands of fans. 

“This next song is called nobody because that’s what I am… a nobody.” We are once again greeted with the Canadian’s modesty on the livestream, but we disagree, Mac. For a man who started out participating in medical experiments for cash, Mr. DeMarco has come a long way, never losing his knack for writing joyous, life-celebrating songs.

As he moves through more intricate, campfire-style love songs in ‘Still Beating’ and ‘Fooled by Love’, it’s clear that Mac has a song for just about any mood, with the former a melancholy ballad on heartache that just about any young-love listener can relate to. To be honest, bottling up a few of Mac’s tunes as a vaccine could be a temporary answer to any national pandemic or societal crisis; they’re so easily able to distract you by whisking you away into a sweet daydream. 

Wrapping up, the soloist gets increasingly dizzy, noting that he’s attempting a ‘master cleanse’ by going three days without eating: “If I do pass out on the stream, you can blame Beyonce because I got the idea from her”. He soldiers on with the bright, autumnal LA sun bursting through the shutters behind him, thanking fans, M for Montreal’s virtual festival producers, and just about everyone who came to his mind at the time. 

After spending an hour listening to Mac’s tunes, it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that you’re filled with a refreshed, free-spirited, and optimistic view of the world - he really just does have that kind of effect on you. 

To hear more from Mac DeMarco, click here.

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