Gig Review: Mac DeMarco w/ Twerps

After this photo was taken, we made sweet love in a villa in Eastern Jamaica*

Thursday, 12th December @ The Standard

May as well start this bleary review by saying that Mac DeMarco put on a gig worthy of the almighty Top 10 of the year. That’s right, some no-name numbskull, that every blog from Pitchfork to Polaroids of Androids seems to adore, was one of my favourite things to see with my own eyes that was musically related. Put it somewhere between a repeat viewing of Spinal Tap and The Stooges. Yeah, it was pretty fucking great. Here’s why:

FOISTLY, Twerps one of my all-time favourite recent Australian bands (thoroughly confused yet?) were opening the bill for our lovely Canadian compatriot Mac. Actually, Destiny 3000 (one of the best up-n-coming Sydney bands of 2013, check ’em out here) opened up the whole show, but because I live a demised life, I missed their set. By all accounts, they played really great, which is no surprise, because they are better than sex followed by pancakes.

Anyway, back to Twerps.  They don’t come up to Sydney all that often, which is a total bummer and a money-saver, because I would see them every time they came. It seemed that not a whole lot of people in the audience knew who Twerps were, or at least the punters I was surrounded by, but by the end of the set, everyone in the crowd was fucking enthralled.

I say fucking enthralled because Twerps put on just the greatest of sets. The set was mostly leaning on new material, a whole slew of stuff coming from their upcoming sophomore record making appearances. Judging by the mixed expressions of awe, shock and the sudden realisation that the only way to spiritual one-ness is to follow this band to the ends of the earth that adorned most attendees’ faces, the new material worked a charm.

Not that the established stuff didn’t hit the mark either, far from it. Opener ‘Dreamin’ captured everyone’s attention immediately and set the performance at a cracking pace (a paradox because of the songs’ silkier-than-a-waterborne-sealion nature, but you get the point). And newer hits off their triple A-side single that came out last year, ‘Work It Out’ and ‘He’s In Stock’ were so thoroughly charming, you’d swear Marty was a goddamn Disney prince.

So, Twerps have walked off stage, and I’m at a crossroads, because in my mind, in absolutely no way have they played long enough. No, my body craves Twerps like teenage pop idols crave tabloid attention. Mac DeMarco could have bailed on the show right then, and I would’ve gone home happy. But no! He had to rock up with his band, ALLLL the way from fucking Canada and make sure I had one of the best nights of my year.

DeMarco gets on stage with the band and starts acting like he’s been in the country for his entire life, with the quick ease and intimacy that would put any comedian to shame. Did I mention this guy’s fucking funny? Throughout the night, he spat beer into the audience (in good humour), spouted about Einstein and how ‘…everything’s relative…’, and there was kind of an extended part about fucking various band members’ mums. Oh yeah, and he has the greatest radio voice of our generation. Someone get Alan Jones to fuck off and replace him with Mac DeMarco.

If it had just been the comedy and word jousting, I probably would’ve left a very happy man. But these dudes added music on top of it! And it was really, really good music! Like, really, really good! Think an amalgamation of The Idiot/Lust for Life-era Iggy Pop crossed with The Rolling Stones in their drug fucked Exile On Main Street days, and then sprinkle some Screamadelica-level Primal Scream over that already mouth-watering delicacy. You do realise I’ve just rattled off three prominent artists at their artist peaks, and this fucking dude goes and combines all that shit into an orgasm inducing bender? You do realise I’ve just done that, right?

Anyway, you may have heard a couple of his tracks getting bounced around, stuff like ‘Ode to Viceroy’, ‘My Kind of Woman’, and of course, ‘Freaking Out the Neighbourhood’. All of these were above and beyond good, making the crowd shake and our lungs work overtime to try and reciprocate the lust vibes emanating from DeMarco.

However, the most interesting aspect of the music was how it became so alive on stage. When listening to it on record, you sort of get this weirdly awesome haze hanging over it, but in the flesh, the haze is replaced with a full-blown sleaze rock accent. Everything becomes a little more corrupted and amazing to witness. People even were moshing and crowd surfing, to music that sounds as though it was made as bong smoke filled every corner of the recording studio. Thats an amazing sort of reaction to garner, and DeMarco responded thusly, even stage diving into the crowd during ‘I’m A Man’, and inviting Marty from Twerps to do the same.

But DeMarco sure know how to save the best for last, a medley of unrelated by stunning covers. There was ‘Taking Care of Business’, ‘Rollercoaster of Lover’, ‘Enter Sandman’, and a back to back of Back in Black’ and ‘Thunderstruck’, all played with the shambolic and fun attitude that made Mac DeMarco a unique and fucking invigorating thing to watch.

So, to summarise, Twerps were awesome and Mac DeMarco waas really awesome. There was simply just too much awesome in a single room for a night. It was not good, I had awesome in my clothes, I smelled of it for days after. I fucking hate awesome stuff. Goddamit Mac DeMarco and Twerps, why you gotta ruin my pessimistic existence?

*This sentence is in absolutely no way, shape or form a representation of anything resembling truth 😦

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Gig Review: Wavves & Unknown Mortal Orchestra

ImageThursday, 25th April @ The Standard

This review is dedicated to Luke and my mum

In case you’re strapped for time, I’ll make this super quick: Wavves and Unknown Mortal Orchestra was one of the greatest gigs I’ve ever been to. Ever.

However, if you’ve got the time to spare a quick geez, I won’t waste your time with some bullshit introduction, and get stuck right in. I entered The Standard to the voluptuous sounds of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. The New Zealand band is the brainchild of former Mint Chick Ruban Nielson. However, unlike his former, but equally amazing band, Unknown Mortal Orchestra play expansive yet tight psychedelic wizard-pop, drawing sounds to a gelatin-like state and then steamrolling them into the ground. On record, this is pure orgasm to the ears, but in a live performance, it’s quite a different beast all together. The songs take on an unknown energy of immortal strength, orchestral grandeur radiating with lo-fi spunk. Did you see what I did there? I described Unknown Mortal Orchestra only using the adjectives provided in the name. I’m a goddamn genius. Somebody stop me!

Although I arrived slightly late to the UMO set, it was impossible to not get immediately swept up in the fervour and intense gaze of the music. A solid drum solo (yes, such a thing exists) was erupting from the stage, whilst Nielson and bassist Jake Portrait duelled with feedback. After what seemed like a perfect amount of time to ‘duel feedback’, the band popped itself back up and exploded into their usual pop sensibilites. However, it’s amazing how UMO tracks, even the slower, melody-centric ones become absolute beasts in the live format. The double slammer of ‘Swim and Sleep (Like A Shark)’ and ‘So Good at Being In Trouble’ (watch the video, it’s got McLovin in it!) was a truly awe-inspiring performance, and should strike fear into any budding pysch protege, in the knowledge they will never be able to caress the lofty heights of UMO. 

Another amazing factor of UMO is Nielson’s guitar virtuosity. Owing as much to Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman as Wayne Coyne and Roky Erickson, Nielson’s fingers were a blur on the fretboard, forming a powerful force generator of sound that would make the dudes from Dragon Ball Z jealous. Notes were picked up and dropped in a blur, rapidly shifting from all directions and creating a sonic wall of solo, so fast it made Speedy Gonzalez’ premature ejaculation look weak in comparison. UMO put on a fucking brilliant performance. if you were standing still during ‘Ffunny Ffriends’, you were alone in doing so. The John Lennon look-alike next to me was hopping up and down so much, he was like Bugs Bunny on meth. Yes. Unknown Mortal Orchestra have such a drawing power they brought John Lennon back to life, just so he could watch them live and lose his shit.

After a mingling break, the main act of Wavves took to the stage, to which the crowd promptly lost their shit. ‘Idiot’, with it’s rollicking, riot inducing chant of ‘Shit! But it wouldn’t mean shit! But it wouldn’t mean shit!’ was instantaneous in its effect of putting the audience in the palm of Nathan Williams and Stephen Pope. Showing that they don’t have the time nor patience to fuck around with stage banter, Wavves then stormed the metaphorical castle with the onslaught of ‘Super Soaker’, ‘Bug’ and ‘King of the Beach’. In the space of four songs spaced over roughly 10 minutes, Wavves could have asked the crowd to recreate a scene from the tales of Roadrunner in full costume, and we would have done it. 

Song after song, hit after hit, the fun-loving, pot-smoking blitzkrieg that is Wavves continued in a whirlwind. Although the set stuck almost exclusively to the final two albums, 2010’s ‘King of the Beach’, and this year’s Nirvana-esque ‘Afraid of Heights’, no one was in a mood or ideal to complain, lapping up every song with consistent and honestly mind-blowing enthusiasm. I mean, how could you, when jams like ‘Sail to the Sun’, ‘Demon to Lean On’, ‘Afraid of Heights’ and ‘Paranoid’ incited the kind of crowd-fervour Stalin dreamed of? Wavves were so good, it made chocolate-coated hookers pale in comparison. That’s hookers that are covered in chocolate. Think about how good that is, just for a second. Yeah, Wavves were better than that. 

However, the tail end of Wavves hour long ode to being amazing was where shit just went to another level. A cover of Sonic Youth’s ‘100%’ delivered in its original biting sarcasm and viciousness? Yes fucking please. The ‘slow song’ ‘Green Eyes’ sending the crowd into feverish singalong mode? Dear God, yes please. Closing the set with distortion a plenty, Nathan Williams jumping from the speakers into a thronging mosh, and Stephen Pope’s shaggy headbanging going into overdrive? (seriously, that was a sight to behold) All my prayers had been answered, and then some.

What I’m trying to say, in the plainest terms possible, is that both Wavves and Unknown Mortal Orchestra kick immeasurable amounts of ass. If Bruce Lee’s badassery could be turned into a musical performance, it would be that double headliner. The amount of spit, sweat, blood and (probably) jizz that abounded in that small, beer soaked, pot-infused room was at dangerous levels. All due to two better than balls bands. It’s still sinking in how great they are.