Words and photos by Francesca Beltran
“Remember that time Mac DeMarco spit water from the stage inside your mouth?” Someday someone will ask that question, and the lucky guy in the front row at last night’s show will be able to proudly answer, “Yes.” The Canadian musician is now well known for his unusual and terribly entertaining performances, and last night’s show at the House of Vans in Brooklyn was no exception.
The evening began at 7:30 with New Orleans act Benjamin Booker, who warmed up the crowd with his raspy voice and alluring fusion of punk, folk and raucous blues. Charming, talented and unassuming, the singer-songwriter bounded through a fantastic set that included tracks from his self-titled debut album, set for release this upcoming August on ATO Records.
When Mac DeMarco came on stage, the 25,000-foot warehouse was already jammed with eager fans that welcomed the prankster with screams of affection. Amidst beers, laughter and ovations, the eccentric musician delighted the audience with his laid back pop tunes, quirky dance moves and extraordinary sense of humor. Known for his exhibitionist tendencies, this time the gap-toothed goofball opted to keep his clothes on, to the relief of some and the dismay of many. In fact, aside from spitting water inside someone’s mouth and crowdsurfing on the exhilarated public, the show was a pretty relaxed one by DeMarco’s standards. The set contained mostly offerings from his latest album, Salad Days, intertwined with some old favorites. Sadly, there was no surprising encore on last night’s menu, but while the singer fixed a guitar string, bassist Pierce McGarry entertained the attendees with an endearing rendition of Coldplay’s Yellow, to which every cheerful soul in the venue sang along. The band said goodbye with an energetic performance of Still Together.
Up next came soul man extraordinaire, Charles Bradley, who ended the evening with a ferocious performance that left the lively crowd half-deaf, but most definitely satisfied. “I’m home, I’m home, I’m home,” repeated the R&B veteran passionately, while blowing kisses left and right as he took the stage in front of a seven-piece band. Wearing an all-red sparkling suit that he later switched for a silver one (both straight out of the original disco era), the 65-year-old singer showed off his astounding dance moves and performed each song with such sentiment one would’ve thought it was his last night on Earth. The event successfully launched this year’s free summer concert series, also known as The Vans House Parties that will continue all through July and August.
First published on CMJ.com on June, 2014
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