Photo by MATT SHAVER
Last night, every long-haired pothead in Philadelphia gathered at the Skyline Stage of the Mann Center to worship their ultimate idol. True to its name, the magnificent city skyline was visible from the top of the hill as the setting sun glittered against the metal skyscrapers in a golden wave. Millennial hippies in flowy maxi-skirts and Baja hoodies swayed to the soothingly unadorned acoustic soft rock of Uruguayan opener Juan Wauters.
A Mac DeMarco concert is half music and half stoner stage antics. Living up to his reputation as indie rock’s goofball slacker, he paused between most songs to practice his Batman voice, try out a handstand, and blow up a Durex condom like a balloon, among other things. During a few of these times, he plunged into an impromptu jam session with the band, whether it was a cover of 50 Cent’s “Go Shorty, It’s Your Birthday,” or playing backing rhythms to the perpetual “Fuck Tom Brady” chant that’s heard at every Philly concert these days. After the latter, Mac commented that he didn’t know Philadelphia hated Tom Clancy so much, which prompted a fan to yell back “Fuck Rainbow 6,” which led into a discussion of the psychological constructs behind the villain of the game, in one of the better tangents of the night.
With such a strong taste for unconventional onstage behavior, fans would probably think that Mac would stray from tired clichés like say, maybe, a mid-show proposal. And yet, he welcomed a man named Nathan to get down on one knee for his now-fiancée before letting him serenade her with “My Kind of Woman.” This slow spot hit right as the pre-show highs began to fade into oblivion, but Mac kicked the energy up one last time with a hypnotic “Chamber of Reflection,” that sent all of the couples into each other’s arms, doubly reminding the rest of us that we were alone, again.
Most of the time, the setlist felt like filler for Mac’s jokes and smoke breaks while multi-instrumentalist Andy White took extended guitar and synthesizer solos. The musical approach was meandering and unfocused, yet it was the perfect complement to the laid-back low voice of of Mac on songs like “No Other Heart” or “On the Level.” From moments like a prolonged period of creepily whispered vocals with all of the lights turned off and the multiple requests for a baggie of shrooms to be thrown onstage, the near-constant crowd interaction helped us all cling to the end-of-summer laziness that will soon reach a quick and sharp death. After the final full-force beat ended the show, we all sluggishly retreated into the humid night to pass around one more joint, relishing the hazy freedom before it evanesces with the cold. — SOPHIE BURKHOLDER