Mac Demarco @ the Santa Barbara Bowl

Last Friday, I caught indie-rock poster boy Mac Demarco at the Santa Barbara Bowl with The Flaming Lips. I had no idea what I was in for with the latter, and to sum it up in Mac’s own words, their performance was “electrifying”.

But back to Mac, who has been one of my favorite artists for the past couple years. Over the last half decade he’s put together a pretty solid discography full of short, sweet and lovable guitar jams. His latest record This Old Dog came out in May and is perhaps his slowest project yet, adopting a much dryer, acoustic sound than much of his previous work.

This Old Dog is also Mac’s most mature record to date. Despite his “carefree” attitude, there’s no doubting that his experience translates into his live performance. He and his bandmates know how to have a good time, and not a bit comes at the sacrifice of playing great music. They played many of Mac’s most beloved tunes, including the synth-heavy stoner anthems “On the Level” and “Chamber of Reflection”, as well as the mesmerizing lullabies “Ode to Viceroy” and “My Kind of Woman”.

I was stoked to hear him play so many songs from 2, his highly acclaimed breakout album and also my personal favorite record of his. From the uptempo boogie of “Cooking Up Something Good” to the daydreamy jingle of “The Stars Keep On Calling My Name”, his signature guitar twang sounded just as good I imagined it would.

He even threw in a kick-ass cover of Van Halen’s classic 1978 smash “Runnin’ with the Devil”. Mac has never been known to have a powerful voice, but after seeing him live I would even say he’s an underrated singer. Behind all that goofiness lies a guy who not only has slick guitar skills, but is also deeply passionate about the craft that goes into being an artist.

I was a little bummed we didn’t get to hear “Moonlight On the River”, but that gives me all the more reason to see Mac and his band again (as if I didn’t have enough already). If you are able to catch him in the future, you’re sure to get an entertaining performance from one of the most consistent cats in indie rock.

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