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Hailing from the extensive King Gizzard family, Victorian five-piece The Murlocs certainly fit the bill tonight with their hairy, surfer vibe. Lanky frontman Ambrose Kenny-Smith rocks the maroon corduroy shirt as well as the outfit’s two key instruments, tambourine and harmonica. Paired with sprawling vocal harmonies, their brand of rocky blues already makes fitting into the bandroom a difficult squeeze.
Performing in his first of two sold-out Melbourne shows alongside the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival circuit, the notoriously loose Mac DeMarco wanders prematurely on stage to set up his instruments. Spectators revel delightedly in the lovable Canadian’s choice of outfit; a Viceroy branded Legionnaires hat and a baggy The Simpsons T-shirt under ratty overalls.
Armed with four beers, some spirits, and his rowdy friends-cum-bandmates, Mac kicks off triumphantly with Salad Days; a raucous introduction to his consistently infectious slacker pop. While guitarist Andy White takes ownership of difficult melody lines, Mac’s totally free to strum away like a madman. With a wonderfully goofy grin planted on his face, he gives the impression of an oversized, hyperactive prodigy child. His lyrical, fluttering vocals are offered almost as an afterthought amid boisterous screeching and laughing.
The band’s performance is incredibly tight, despite the shambolic impression they create between spurts of philosophical platitudes and offshoots into classic covers. The first of these occurs when a poor punter with a Red Hot Chili Peppers shirt is briefly humiliated on stage by bass player Pierce McGarry, inducing an impromptu rendition of Californication.
But given Mac’s overly enthusiastic approach to guitar, he’s required to restring twice during the set, letting Pierce and Andy off the leash in the interim. While Andy performs a semi-earnest Adele cover, inviting a barrage of swaying lighters, Pierce later delivers a shrieky version of Coldplay’s Yellow. Having earlier introduced his “Mamasita” – who’s been boogying and mouthing every word side of stage – the now famous Agnes DeMarco even joins Mac on stage for a sultry duet of Jammin. Predictably, she’s a hit.
Mac’s ecstatic countdowns before several songs duly razz up the crowd – not that they need any assistance. Punters are particularly raucous and messy this evening, as well as cultishly appreciative. Between Ode To Viceroy, Blue Boy, Freaking Out The Neighbourhood and the oft forgotten My Kind Of Woman, tonight feels like a night of best of’s. An army of fans squeal along to Mac’s piercing guitar hooks as much as they sing with his lyrics.
With The Murlocs joining the fray, bubbly final song Still Together is certainly a rowdy display. Mac really sets a new standard with a triumphant stage dive, which he incredibly orchestrates into a launch-pad to climb the balcony wall and crowd surf on the second floor.
The encore doesn’t fail to impress either. A seemingly never-ending and furious Enter Sandman closes the night, but not before a few merry lines of Kumbaya, nicely summing up the wild, random, and utterly intoxicating nature of the set. To those still uninitiated, Mac DeMarco should jump straight to the top of anyone’s must see list.
Mac DeMarco will play one more sold-out sideshow at Melbourne’s Hi Fi tonight before he appears at the remaining Laneway Festivals in Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane this weekend. See those dates below.
Laneway Festival 2015
Friday, 6th February 2015
Harts Mill, Port Adelaide, Adelaide (16+)
Saturday, 7th February 2015
Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC) And The River’s Edge, Melbourne
Sunday, 8th February 2015
Esplanade Reserve And West End, Fremantle
Image: Mac DeMarco At Laneway Festival, Brisbane / Photo: Charlyn Cameron