Mac DeMarco @ Rough Trade East [Review]

The indie-slacker effectively quashes melancholy beneath goofy antics in a low-key acoustic set.


by Alexander Smail

A member of the audience interrupts Mac DeMarco’s strumming to request he play ‘Freaking Out the Neighbourhood’, one of the Canadian’s more upbeat and danceable songs – a request which is gently refused by the singer for being “too rock-and-roll”. Playing to an intimate crowd of around 250, it is clear his intentions lie elsewhere tonight. Armed alone with only the bare essentials – an acoustic guitar and a mini keyboard – he introduces himself by letting the crowd know how he spent the prior night: drunk and throwing up.

Musically, the Canadian seems to be drifting further away from the buoyant slacker-rock of his roots, towards melancholic introspection, and it’s a similar story onstage. While the carefree attitude for which he is loved remains intact, nowhere to be seen are the crazy antics and unprompted nudity which brought him notoriety early in his career and, as DeMarco matures musically (and mentally), the raucous infancy of his fan base is becoming more apparent. After the show, daughters are dragged home by their fathers before they can greet their beloved, and young teens approach him bearing gifts. For kids looking for a way to be themselves, it’s hard not to see the appeal in DeMarco’s eternally chill demeanour, but as his music becomes more subdued and wistful, the unruly crowds to which he plays seem increasingly disconnected from the music. Nevertheless, if the sorrow suggested by the despondency of his lyrics is present in his performance, it is well hidden beneath goofy jokes and gags.


Throughout the set, DeMarco chats to his audience as if he is chilling with them back at his beach house in New York. Between asking a member of the crowd to feed him a beer, and doing one of his bizarre impersonations, he recalls a particularly unpleasant experience growing up, when one of his favourite bands refused to let him and the rest of the audience sing along during a gig. Consequently, DeMarco seems determined to maintain as good a relationship with his fans as possible – even going so far as giving out his home address on his latest album and inviting them over for coffee. It is easy to imagine the personable entertainer feels most at home during these informal performances, where the connection between him and the audience is palpable.

As he nears the end of the set, DeMarco invites the audience to kneel with him for an intimate rendition of ‘Still Together’ – dedicated to his long-time girlfriend. His howling vocals hush the crowd and, for the first time, the Canadian appears truly vulnerable. The moment is short-lived, though, as he quickly dives off the stage, and into the ravenous hands of his fans. He may not be stripping onstage anymore, but Mac DeMarco has never bared so much.

Cover photo by Ralph Arvesen [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Toro y Moi Surprise Releases R&B Mixtape ‘Samantha’

Collaborators include Washed Out, Nosaj Thing, and SHORE.

Toro y Moi has released a free mixtape of unreleased tracks onto the internet. The former chillwave pioneer has earned a reputation as one of the hardest working musicians around, and releasing these tracks only a few months after his last full-length LP, the psychedelic What For?, certainly lends truth to that.

You can download the mixtape here.

Glastonbury 2016 Tickets To Go On Sale Early October

Better start thinking of how to get out of work.

Organisers have announced that coach/ticket packages will be available on the 1st, whereas standard tickets will not go on sale until the 4th. The popular festival will be held from the 22nd to the 26th of June next year, and those rumoured to appear include Taylor Swift, Coldplay, and Miley Cyrus.

For more information, click here.

Header image by Bennydigital (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Drake Reworks The Weeknd’s ‘Tell Your Friends’ [Listen]

During the recent episode of his Beats 1 radio show, Drizzy premiered a new freestyle remix of close friend The Weeknd’s ‘Tell Your Friends’, taken from his recent album Beauty Behind The Madness. 

Originally co-produced by Kanye West, check out the remix below

Header image by thecomeupshow [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly


by Alexander Smail

A fabricated conversation between Kendrick Lamar and the late Tupac Shakur takes place during ‘Mortal Man’, the final track on To Pimp a Butterfly. Less a song than philosophical reflection, they ‘discuss’ topics such as success and inequality. The back-and-forth, created using quotes from a little-known Tupac interview, can be seen as a microcosm of the album as a whole. While Lamar’s coming-of-age sophomore effort, good kid, m.A.A.d city, was introspective and focused on his experiences growing up in Compton, he widens his scope here, tackling broader social issues such as racism. While that may inescapably result in a less personal album, To Pimp a Butterfly is arguably Lamar’s most rewarding record yet.

Not only in subject matter has the rapper expanded with this release, but also in style. Elements of funk, jazz and blues are scattered throughout. He is more sonically ambitious here than he has been before, and it pays off. ‘King Kunta’, one of the more energetic tracks on the album, finds Lamar channelling James Brown over a 70s funk beat, whereas the jazz influence is prominent all over, particularly on tracks such as ‘For Free?’ and sombre standout ‘How Much a Dollar Cost’.

Darker than his previous work, the album might put off casual listeners. It requires persistent attention, and rewards it. Even ‘i’, a single that sounded disappointingly radio-friendly upon its release last year, has been substituted with a new, live version. Halfway though, the song is interrupted by a fight in the crowd, to which Lamar responds with a speech on the importance of respect. It fits in much better with the weighty narrative of the album, though its central theme of self-love remains, contrasting greatly to its dark, hostile counterpart, ‘u’.

It would have been simple to recreate good kid, m.A.A.d city, but Lamar isn’t one for taking the easy route. By design, this album is meant to be listened to in one sitting, with its lack of noticeable singles, and predominant narrative on heavy issues such as racism. While this means To Pimp a Butterfly is not instantly catchy, Lamar is after something much bigger anyway.