LIVE: Mac DeMarco & Dinner – The Institute, Birmingham 10.09.15

When listening to Mac DeMarco, crowds highly fuelled by drink (and much more) attempting to mosh isn’t really something you’d expect from one of his live shows. Seeming relatively relaxed and chilled in the studio making his self-described style of ‘jizz jazz’ it’s the complete opposite when playing live. It allows for his jokey, sometimes sleazy personality, which has seen him reveal his address so fans can pop round for a cup of coffee, or even get fully naked for a rendition of U2’s ‘Beautiful Day’. So with his debut appearance in Birmingham now due, it’s only right that madness ensues.

Returning the crowd back to the 80s is Dinner, aka Anders Rhedin, who takes no time in revealing his eccentric side in both his music and also dancing. ‘Are you ready for Dinner?’ the Dutch musician questions the audience as he asks people to lift their arm in the air to then place their hand on their heart; it’s all about feeling Dinner. His shrieks initially startle but as everyone begins to warm to his outlandishness, it all turns into a bit of a joke as he begins to swing his body violently along to the music whilst having his scarf draped over his head; it’s all to put on a show.

“This one’s a new one, Dinner played it once before and it fucked up’ he introduces one track with, giving little hope to the audience about the upcoming couple of minutes but the doubt is soon lost as many join in with his quirkiness. His constant manic dancing that could have immortalised Ian Curtis, and replaced any good workout never stops throughout his set. As he leads on into ‘Going Out’, the synth-laden party track compliments his low-toned vocals perfectly. The vocals, which have previously been likened to a male descendant of Nico, make Dinner seem like something from a parallel universe. Who knows if everyone felt Dinner the same way Dinner did, but it’s certain for some he’s their favourite meal.

With the ending of Dinner, the wait for everyone’s favourite goofy Canadian seems never-ending but as the clock strikes nine, the lights dim and Mac and his band walk out clad in their classic baggy t-shirts, jeans, vans and overall messy appearance for their debut Birmingham appearance.

Entering to screams, shouts and the beginning of the night’s chaos, it’s hard to understand Mac’s initial introduction which seems a little understated. There’s no huge, fancy backdrop, or even shoes on guitarist Andy White’s feet, it’s not hard to realise that DeMarco isn’t about the cliches, it’s all about just having a good time.

They quickly move into opener ‘The Way You’d Love Her’, the gently spirited opening track of his recent mini-album Another One.Keeping everyone fairly in line, the love-orientated tracks off the new album are more controlling than his older material as those still a bit unfamiliar with the LP remain swaying along, whilst others sing along with Mac’s croons and join in with the guitar riffs when the opportunity arises.

The lack of material off his debut Rock and Roll Night Club proves as a bit of a disappointment to some but fan favourites like ‘Salad Days’ and Ode To Viceroy’ soon make up for it. The mix of old and new tracks improves the mood also, making the disappointment vanish. ‘The Stars Keep on Calling My Name’ breaks up ‘No Other Heart’ and ‘Another One’, allowing a little dance between the lovestruck tracks. Speeding up the usually chilled out songs invigorates the crowd even more, as even with the move into Cooking Up Something Good’, things begin to reach the manic and crazy levels Mac DeMarco shows are renown for.

The great reception from the crowd follows on into new tracks ‘Without Me’ and ‘Just Put Me Down’, which seem to leave behind their euphoric, emotional origins to acquire a more vigorous persona live. There’s still the same softly sung vocals from Mac, but the dreamy riffs are soon taken to another level with the reaction from the crowd.

Moving back to the older tracks, ‘Let Her Go’ and ‘Chamber of Reflection’ see any element of sanity dropped as there’s no going back to the swaying and dancing which was marginally possible before. With everyone pushing to get a good spot as close as possible to the stage, there’s no other option but for everyone to sing their heart out trying to ignore the violence struggle around them. There are appeals for everyone to look out for each other and to help everyone back up, but with little success the tracks draw to an end, with most unknowing that the end was in sight after just under an hour of Mac onstage.

Completing the night with ‘Still Together’, it’s finally time for the infamous Mac DeMarco crowd surf. This regularity has seen his shoes and clothing being stolen by gig goers at previous shows, but in Birmingham things turn nasty quickly. Despite the track seeming quite mellow recorded, the elongated, high-pitched wails of “together” drown the venue, whilst people crush towards the front to have a go of helping the man himself crowd surf around the room. With many now on the floor and struggling to return to their feet, even Mac is lost in the madness with no sign of his classic vans and baggy jeans anywhere.

Still seeming pretty chilled even after getting swarmed in the crowd, he quickly draws things to a close after his return to the stage, making the night feel somewhat incomplete as the pleas for more get rejected, with the signal to leave soon made by the return of lights to the Institute; there’s no more time for tonight’s antics to continue. Though cut short, no one’s left fully disheartened as what does get played goes down a treat, making his return to the city highly anticipated already.

Becky Rogers