This article was originally published on Respect My Region
Somewhere in the Hollywood Hills, between the urban tumult and complete silence, exists a space where artists and audiences occasionally work together to create a bubble of anti-noise small enough for everyone inside to feel special.
This past weekend, disheveled wonderboy Mac DeMarco performed back-to-back-to-back sets to no more than 1,200 people each night at the Ford. The outdoor amphitheater is among the most enchanting venues in a metropolis abundant in venues, so to have him take it over for three consecutive slots is a testament to the fuzzy charm that’s kept him in demand.
He’s that guy — a softhearted craftsman of sound with a proven track record of moving people who submit to their emotions as well as those who don’t. This is no easy feat, but for him to evoke such tenderness among a crowd without even singing for the first act is what made his run in LA such a first-class experience.
Aural Warmth on a Brisk Summer Night in Los Angeles
Though the 144p Los Angeles sky clears up and becomes progressively tranquilizing with each step away from the city, the airspace was still mostly starless. Still, witnessing Mac actually relax and play to a seated audience on a cool summer evening emitted the serene shelter of a shimmering sky.
That’s what happens when a beautiful man is offered a platform in an ugly city.
The shows lasted for approximately two-and-a-half hours and consisted of 30-plus cuts spanning Mac’s career. The first phase, which was the Ford’s main selling point in distinguishing the event, featured Five Easy Hotdogs performed in its entirety.
Remember the first of two albums he put out this year? The one that isn’t almost nine hours long and just one cut short of 200? The one he recorded with musicians on the road while driving around North America for four months?
Half-Plugged Unplugged Sets by Mac DeMarco
After performing all 14 sleepy instrumental tributes to the different regions of Canada and the United States he posted up in during his trip, he started fluctuating between fan favorites and select picks from his second and far more extensive tracklist of 2023.
The songs were all stripped back to their most essential elements, so the evenings essentially played out like half-plugged Unplugged concerts — conversational, intimate and familiar. However, what made them different than the average Mac DeMarco shows was that they felt subtly poignant despite his congenial stage presence.
Perhaps it was because he toned things down even more than usual that the somber subject matter of his material really began standing out or maybe he just patterned the setlist with songs in the same wavelength as “Heart to Heart,” his emotive homage to the late, great Mac Miller.
Mac DeMarco’s weekend exhibit at the Ford Theatre was deeply personal for all the above reasons. He might do it all over again at different sites in different regions, but being there felt like it was meant specifically for us … like it was our thing.
Not everyone can make strangers feel that way, especially when their job is to perform in front of hundreds and thousands of them night after night.