November 25, 2013

Mac DeMarco @ The Hoxton, Toronto

Mac DeMarco plays at the Hoxton with local Toronto bands Elsa, and Cellphone on November 24th.

The Hoxton is hidden around a sketchy corner, but once you enter through the doors you're transported to a sleek modern lounge with neatly placed neon lighting. Even the washrooms has hired attendants with a table full of assortments, including a candy stand. A bit fancy for a Mac DeMarco show. However the windows that opens to the outside street and the fact that it was up a floor made it almost feel like a loft house party.

I usually never arrive half an hour after doors open. To my surprise, only three rows had gathered at the front of the stage. The people that were scattered around the linear room quickly huddled in around me and the crowd grew large, a different reception to an opener.

The first to open is Cellphone. Loud, hard, reckless music. Borderline heavy metal with long hair to complete the look. People around me seem to like it. I overheard someone from behind even went as far as saying that was the entire show for him. But I was wondering if Mac DeMarco was playing a joke all along, even having them open three times before. I also found out I was half-deaf in my right ear somewhere between their set. Nothing noteworthy. Though the keyboardist gave off a very intense creepy glare to the crowd.

The next band is Elsa, replacing the expected Ell V Gore - which I prefer anyway because I've found a new band that I love, opposite to the previous opener. The audible bass has the same charm as the likes of Beach Fossils, and the vocals reverberating like DIIV. Admittedly, it's not hard to tell the frontman was the heartthrob of the band. Fashioned with a 90s blunt haircut bobbing side to side, and a t-shirt over long sleeves that pretty much shouts grunge. The female drummer automatically made them 20x cool. But it was the guitarist that immediately caught my eye once he walked onstage, equipped with a sweet Rickenbacker. Guys from the crowd were even shouting asking for the price and I'm sure most of us were admiring it through their solid set - probably of the night, actually. They played songs off their month old EP I Do and closed off with a Guided By Voices cover.

Mac DeMarco takes the stage, accompanied by friends casually sitting on lawn chairs on one side. Immediately, the crowd goes wild once the music starts. This is the part where my memory gets hazy - which may be a good sign of a successful night, but I was trying to fight to stay alive than enjoy the musical presence of Mac.

Walking away from the one band I came to see is something I never thought I would do, but it was way too much heat for me. I struggled to get to open space with fresh air, nearly fainting three times. The sea of crowd seem to last forever and nobody would budge - or could budge. With a full beer dumped on my face, and a few more bodies to maneuver around, I was finally free. This half of the room was a significant difference. The looks I got from patrons were wide eyed, as I was soaked in sweat and alcohol with my hair all over the place. I look back and you couldn't tell the craziness at the front at all with tall boys blocking the view even from this far behind.

Even though I couldn't experience the show up front, I enjoyed a drink and bobbled my head through a medley of Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Metallica covers that lasted almost half the set. And of course, they ended with 'Still Together', except with a slight cheerlessness coming from Mac DeMarco, with the absence of his beloved girlfriend Kiki.

Mac DeMarco, fans, shirts and lawn chairs surf above the crowd ending the show like how it always should. Then we retire at Bambi's for a few more drinks, making it a good night.

Photos: Van Anne

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