The dimly lit ballroom was packed with eager faces. Donned in hipster garb and 5-panel hats, they yammered about the impending show and created small talk as alcohol slowly sipped into their bloodstream, inciting laughter and anticipation. The evening began with the opening act The Courtneys from Vancouver, Washington. The drummer made Meg White look like a god by playing the exact same drumbeat on all six songs. Their guitarist had an affinity for creating senseless, anti-climactic feedback where one may propose a guitar solo. Needless to say, the crowd was thrilled to hear the house music return to their ears instead of the cacophonic cries of The Courtneys attempting to enrapture their attention.
Suddenly, as if some spell had been placed over the crowd, the entire room shifted its mood into a frenzy as a scruffy haired figure strolled onto the stage whilst the song “What Is Love” churned out over the sound system. The Canadian indie sensation Mac DeMarco lit up the room with a smile and burst into his first number. The crowd fed off the entertainer’s exciting energy and returned his enthusiasm with cries of ecstatic and maniacal worship. DeMarco, being only on his second full album and has seen the likes of a world tour, has been selling out most venues he frequents. The Crystal Ballroom in Portland was no exception to the trend. The temperature in the room began to climb as I was sardined between squealing youths jeering and shouting the lyrics to every one of his songs. The audience was played just as well as the instruments used on stage. The fans writhed and swayed in sync to the music so much so that eventually security had to hold the gates being used to chorale the audience.
DeMarco’s onstage presence is that of a playful and exuberant clown with a smirk and piercing eyes filled with a sharp intellect. He truly shines in his ability to enrapture the audience for copious amounts of time with excellent showmanship and musical finesse. The sound of his music is as drawing is his personality. Song after song, DeMarco’s acolytes became more and more hypnotized by the strange sounds, juxtaposed into their ears by the genius-mad man at the helm of the ship. Just at the apex of the hysteria, DeMarco insisted on crowd surfing the entire Crystal Ballroom. He coasted along and was carried like a pharaoh, making his rounds about a pyramid. His fans took his socks, interchanged various hats on his head, and some kind soul even gifted their jester-king with a small zip-lock care package.
As the night came to a close, DeMarco announced that there would be an after party at White Owl Social Club. Naturally, I was intrigued and attended the event, finding the band taking turns DJ’ing and an audience dancing to the remixed songs being played. After some time DeMarco popped up, and I was able to talk with him for a bit. What strikes me the most about his character is his sincerity and humble demeanor, which many musicians lack. Closing our conversation, I was curious.
“Mac, what inspired you to do all of this? What inspires you?”
He took a breath off his cigarette and quipped, “Life, the fact of being alive in this moment inspires me.”