Opening for Mac DeMarco’s Cinco de Mayo show at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace was a band called Drugdealer. One could describe the group as quirky and fun … but a little strange.
“My name is Mike, and I write songs with my friends the Drugdealers,” said front man Mike Collins, before quipping: “Joshua Tree, the entrance to heaven.”
Drugdealer offers ’70s-style pop, performed by guys who are riding high via a cannabis-fueled airline. Introducing the single “End of Comedy” off of the band’s debut album by the same name, Collins said: “This time, the band rehearsed twice!” Drugdealer did a great job of setting the mood for the rest of the night.
Mac DeMarco came to Pappy and Harriet’s to celebrate the release of his new album, This Old Dog, via Captured Tracks. Once known for larks onstage—which have even gotten him arrested—this old dog has learned new tricks, with DeMarco bringing a calmer and fantastic performance to Pioneertown. What has not changed: his gorgeously composed narratives with quirky lyrics that are simply delightful. The night was cold, which may explain the bottle of Jameson that was always nearby, keeping the singer warm in the high desert air. The audience was probably the youngest I’ve seen at Pappy’s this year—but the crowd was nonetheless dedicated, lining up a few hours before the opening of the gate.
DeMarco walked on and said, “Hello my name is Mac,” before starting the set with “Salad Days,” which got fans jumping. Reaction was also quite positive to the upbeat tune “The Stars Keep on Calling My Name.” Feeding off the crowd, Mac validated their love by saying, “We’ll try to play as long as we can.”
“A Wolf Who Wears Sheep’s Clothes,” another high-tempo tune off the new record, was a highlight of the night.
Someone in the audience at one point yelled, “Yeah! Yeah!” which was met with Mac saying: “Shut the fuck up!” Things were starting to wind down, but the mood was still happy when DeMarco uttered, “Viceroy early in the morning just trying to let the sun in and open my eyes,” from “Ode to Viceroy,” a sappy yet heartfelt song which required a puff from his cigarette and a swig from the emptying bottle of Jameson at his feet. Mac then said, “Thank you guys,” a clue the end of the show was near. A person in the crowd yelled, “I want to bum a smoke,” to which DeMarco responded only with his eyes, saying something to the effect of, “Dude, buy your own pack.”
“Chamber of Reflection” was dedicated to a family he met in the parking lot—this happens at Pappy’s, as there is no backstage area. The young child from that family was brought onstage and allowed to sit on an amp for the rest of the show—on occasion helping with chimes.
At one point, I bumped into a fan named Georgia who was beyond excited. She told me she missed a Mac show at Red Rocks in Colorado, because she got arrested a few days before; I did not ask for details.
By then, the crowd was in a frenzy. I spied Mac crowd-surfing while on his side—with a cigarette in his mouth.
What a night.