Salad daze: Mac DeMarco rocks the Loma Vista Gardens

Ever since the release of his debut solo LP, “2,” in 2012, Canadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco—born Macbriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco—has been winning fans over with his low-fidelity, high-vibrato blend of reel-to-reel surf pop and barroom humor.  “2” was succeeded by 2014’s “Salad Days,” which presented a more melancholic Mac and garnered even more critical attention.Gabe Mac Chris Elizabeth

DeMarco’s meteoric rise to fame has coincided with a zealous touring schedule, including a prestigious slot at a certain Coachella Valley Music Festival.

However, he has also set aside time for smaller venues—as was seen on April 14-15, when he returned to the central coast to play at the cactus- and succulent-filled Loma Vista Gardens for the benefit of the Big Sur Education Council.

On the 15th, the crowd only numbered a few dozen—in stark contrast to the hordes of fans found at Mac’s festival dates—but the intimate setting led to an incredible performance.

In an interview before the concert, DeMarco himself took the time to answer a few questions about his music. Sitting on the stoop of a sun-dappled yurt, with a small amber ring on his finger and his signature gap-toothed grin on his face, Mac talked of his inspirations (The Beatles, The Kinks), his favourite album (“Steve McQueen” by Prefab Sprout, whom he likened to The Smiths—“only jokier”) and his songwriting process.

“I got a couple rules: I don’t really tell people what to do, and I don’t like to talk about things I don’t know anything about….I just write about my life,” he said.

Yet it was only when the band took the stage later that evening that I got a sense for what a life the DeMarco life is.

Around 7:30 p.m., the band came out from the wings: DeMarco was sporting a Viceroy cap, while the mustachioed bassist, Pierce McGarry, wore a Jurassic Park trucker. DeMarco welcomed the audience with a warm smile and then promptly kicked off his set with the woozy ostinatos of “Cooking up Something Good.”

Between songs, McGarry told a Rembrandt joke (Q: “When did Rembrandt paint best? A: In the dark.”) and a Beethoven joke (Q: “When did Beethoven get a hole-in-one? A: On his 9th.”) but was upstaged by lead guitarist Andy White, who followed with a 10-minute joke about a bad breakup with a dolphin ex-girlfriend.

Later in the show, White led the audience in a stirring sing-along rendition of Adele’s “Someone Like You.” This, of course, all came before Mac crowd surfed up an inclined plane—and even that came before an ironic Metallica encore.

In sum, it was a night not to be missed—but even if you didn’t make it out to Loma Vista, it’s not too late to experience Mac DeMarco for yourself. On April 22, Mac announced 44 more tour dates, alongside a new mini LP, “Another One,” due out on Captured Tracks Aug. 7.

-Christopher Good