Image courtesy of Blare Magazine http://blaremagazine.com/2017/04/04/photos-mac-demarco-at-house-of-vans-toronto/

Mac Demarco at House of Vans

This past weekend saw The House of Vans pop up at 99 Sudbury Street in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood. The event spanned three days offering a community market, art instillations, a rad indoor skate park and live performances including a special appearance from Canadian cutie Mac Demarco.

It was a pretty mundane Friday morning at work, a 7am start no less, when an email from House of Vans pinged up on my phone and turned my day around. I was stoked to have been placed on the guest list for the Saturday night party which would see Toronto’s own DJ Bambii, as well as singer RALPH, take to the stage, before an exclusive performance by Mr Demarco himself.

I’ve always wanted to see Mac live, there’s just something about his cheeky charm and melodic sounds that I can’t get enough of, but sadly a less than full UK tour line-up, coupled with his popularity across the pond, has meant that I had never had the opportunity. That was until now.

Now, if you know me you’ll know I have a tiny bit of an obsession with Vans (a very healthy one!) and so to be able to get along to this exclusive evening event at the House of Vans no less was just the pièce de résistance.

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I decided to grant my friend Grace (actually an old friend of my cousins, but I like to think my friend these days) the privilege of my +1, mostly ‘cause she’s a laugh and a half and we always have fun together. That and the fact she likes Mac Demarco too so it made sense.

We decided to head down to the venue 40 minutes early, thinking we could check out the community market and would be there with plenty of time as the House of Vans recommended this to guarantee entry.

All I can say is that we were lucky the weather had suddenly decided to become a little milder and raise a couple degrees from the -7 we have become accustomed to these last few months. We waited outside of the venue until 9:10pm, which was wild considering we were told the show started at 9:00pm!

It was worth the wait once we managed to flood into the venue. In true Vans style they had remodelled the indoor skate park into a super cool venue, with giant, glowing lanterns overhead illuminating patches of the vast room in shads of red and blue. People were mingling all around, drinking beers and chatting. There were fridges stocked with free Vitamin Waters (I’m assuming this was down to some sponsorship). Two bars aligned each side of the room, offering beer, wine and a variety of spirits. And then, I’ll be honest, there were also a lot of hotties (overwhelmingly so) which might have added to the atmosphere…

Armed with drinks in hand we perched ourselves atop a ledge, expecting the crowd to fill up drastically, and thinking we were pretty damn clever for securing such a great spot to see the show. Turns out, it was actually not quite the crowd we expected.

Looking back it makes a lot of sense. There were a tonne of VIP guests, skaters from within the city and further afield who had travelled in for the weekend, vendors who had been working on stalls all day, artists who had been exhibiting… this wasn’t a ‘show’ necessarily. This was a private party at which the musicians just happened to be playing.

RALPH opened up with some blissful melodies. I hadn’t heard her play before but after such an amazing opening I’ll for sure be checking her out again. I recommend you do too.

Following on Toronto-based DJ Bambii (aka Kristen Azan) blew the crowd away with some sick, dancey mixes, including a funky remix of Outcasts ‘Roses’ which really saw the crowd come into its own.

Now, if you ask me, I reckon House of Vans did a little bit of a fuck up on the set list. People danced their asses off and drank twice as much as before during Bambii’s party playlist- and a part of me wonders if this may have been suited for after Demarco’s set. Would it have been better to listen to his acoustic tunes and laugh and his humorous remarks, and then afterwards get wasted and dance? I think so… The other way around made it kind of hard to concentrate.17499488_10210415668400371_8297017472644885599_n

Don’t get me wrong, Mac was epic and I was so stoked to finally be able to see him live…and in such a good venue… and from such a cool spot. I just wish the majority crowd had been a little more into it.

Illuminated beneath a the hanging ‘House of Vans’ sign, he opened up with his classic ‘Salad Days’ before playing a couple of new songs from his up coming album ‘This Old Dog’. The show itself felt pretty casual, with DeMarco stopping between tracks to chat with the audience, relay anecdotes ad even ask: “hey, can you guys hear me?” The band changed it up from their usual show set list and provided something fresh for the event, including a cameo from a crowd member who played Mac’s guitar herself whilst he sang.

From stage diving into the throng of fans, skaters and party-goers in front of him, to letting as many people as possible flood onto the stage to enjoy the show from a different perspective, Mac certainly lived up to his fun-loving persona.

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I reckon if I was to pick an event to see one of my favourite artists play at, this was it. The mellow vibes and cool atmosphere, teamed with two rad supporting artists, made this the party of the month and a super cool experience to kick off my first spring in the 6ix.

Aimeexo

 

Check out Blare Magazines website for some more sick photographs of the event: http://blaremagazine.com/2017/04/04/photos-mac-demarco-at-house-of-vans-toronto/

Live: The Wytches @Headrow House, Leeds (09/11/15)

This review was originally by me written for Gigsoup.co.uk.

It only takes three songs and a mosh pit has already opened up, as the crowd go wild, energetically thrashing to Brighton born band The Wytches. The past year has seen these guys go from strength to strength after the success of their 2014 album Annabel Dream Reader.

The first of their UK tour, and the band are faced with a sold out show at Leeds’ Headrow House. And similar to the newly opened venue, The Wytches are a band who are cool without evening trying.

The mood is electric in here, and an eager buzz has infected the crowd. In a flurry of black hair, silhouetted by pink and blue lighting that shines out from stained glass window style lights, the band open up with a new song ‘C-Side’ before bursting into ‘Wide at Midnight’ which throws the crowd into an outbreak of excitement.

Their sound remains consistent, a hint of early 90s grunge, and melodic adroitness, accompanied by a flurry of screaming vocals, but with a new element of organ added by returning live member Mark Breed on keys.

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Tonight sees the bands first live performance of ‘Dead Night Again’, as they test out a handful of new tracks alongside clear crowd pleasers ‘Gravedweller’ and ‘Wasteybois’- an aggressive new song from their August 2015 EP ‘Thunder Lizard’s Reprive’.

The louder a track is, the more pleasure emits from the crowd, signalled by a chaos of shoving and an apparent constant stream of fans making their way to the front to dive from the stage into the mass of rampant anarchy. A clear highlight of the night ‘Beehive Queen’ erupts to life with a crash of percussion and immediate enthusiasm upon the first chord. In a burst of perfect timing, the density of the crowd’s size seems to double as Bell bellows out the lyrics ‘And it was crowded/ so I was leaving’, as the pit circle begins to expand.

The tone of the night is slowed somewhat for the melodic ‘Summer Time Again’, as angst-ridden vocals “I undid your dress/ you climbed up my jeans/ we went for each other/ still with no means’, make their way out to the crowd and change the mood to one only understood by that first unfair teenage heartbreak.

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However, the bands gritty intensity soon makes a comeback with the explosive sounds of ‘Robe 4 Juda’ as the once self-proclaimed ‘surf-grunge’ foursome hype the crowd back up for their final few songs.

Bell’s guttural vocals, alongside the bands skilled combination of rhythmic tones paired with anarchic energy, it is clear that their on stage prowess is a huge player in the accomplishments of this band.

Even once they have left the stage, it seems the electric buzz this band have created isn’t going to die down for a long time.