Live Review: Mac DeMarco, Kirin J Callinan, GUM

7 January 2016 | 12:43 pm | Hannah Story

"It's only the first week of January and we may already have the show of the year."

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Holy shit. It's only the first week of January and we may already have the show of the year. Last night's Mac DeMarco Falls sideshow was actually just a giant party, a celebration of how fucking fun music can and should be. Had we forgotten that music isn't always self-serious or self-aggrandising? That music's power may in fact be in its ability to bring people together to goof around, and that that goofing around is just as much an important part of our lives as all the misery, hardship, ambition and the complex, deep stuff certain indie singer-songwriters are always harping on about?

The show brought together three of the world's most interesting solo singer-songwriters, pushing against boundaries of genre and form, and playing with it. And the show brought in one of the fiercest all ages crowds we've seen in ages: kids pushing up against each other even through the interval, creating death circle after death circle after death circle, a seemingly stark contrast to the relatively relaxed laidback strums of DeMarco and co.

We open with Perth's GUM, aka Jay Watson of Tame Impala and POND. He's already got a fairly full room peering up at him for tracks like Growin' Up and Anesthetized Lesson from his two solo records. It's space-rock, and the really young crowd surge up against each other in the centre to the groove-laden tracks. Watson's got a set of underused pipes and daggy dance moves to show off, which he's able to do thanks to his guitarist, but it's their jam-outs that hold the set together and make the set a lot of fun.

Kirin J Callinan then blows the whole thing out of the water. What a showman, two parts Garrett, one part Cave, six parts totally-out-of-this-world-I-can't-compare-him-to-anyone-he's-his-own-man. That guy is born to work a crowd, emerging dressed in an ostentatious white outfit, discarding a robe, hat, shirt through the set at the crowd's request: "Take it off!" He's shirtless in time for The Teacher, an obvious set highlight; he brings out Donny Benet on guitar, a sax player, and even back-up singers Watson and DeMarco himself. This means Callinan gets to strut and roam across the stage, have a boogie, and crouch front of stage to touch hands with the adoring crowd. He's got a smooth voice, low and soulful, sometimes chilling, and he's got smoke effects, so that's it, we're sold, and latter guitar tricks, and a kind of snarling, howling guitar bring it home. The Edge from Benet's Weekend At Donny's caps off the set, for which the man himself returns to wail on his guitar, Callinan reaching out to the crowd again.

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Mac DeMarco is in a bloody good mood when he comes on stage, all smiles and good vibes. And the kids are already mashing against each other, arms in the air, shouting back every word. Sweat starts to fly, as DeMarco opens up with The Way You'd Love Her and Salad Days. He's a dag, he likes to dance, he likes to write about women and love and he likes chill guitar lines. He's exactly what we need at this point in time. Set highlight? Rock And Roll Night Club, Callinan joining in wearing just a kilt, Watson in Callinan's discarded robe, Uncle 'Jim Carrey' crowdsurfing. The crowd lap it up, crowdsurfing, stage-diving throwing shoes, cigarettes, jackets up as a sacrifice. Weed smoke rises, dance circles become death circles to Ode To Viceroy, Cooking Up Something Good and even the subdued Another One.

DeMarco is a giving performer, but perhaps is having too much fun dancing around, striking power poses, breaking his strings a couple of times. While he restrings the first time his band play instrumentals and play-bicker, oh and the second time they play Coldplay's Yellow with fervor and vocals from Pierce McGarry. They end the vocal-heavy part of the set to Freaking Out The Neighbourhood, Chamber Of Reflection and Still Together, all featuring a shaken Jon Lent, the keys player sent out on his maiden Sydney crowdsurf.

DeMarco takes over drumming so his drummer Joe McMurray can crowdsurf, just as the crowd figure out the perfect stage invasion route over the speakers, one jumping up after another and another and another. Eventually the band are still playing, the drummer has returned, but a girl on stage is having her peak-life-moment, dancing like everyone's watching, while DeMarco simply lies by the drum kit. Next song DeMarco takes his own turn at crowdsurfing, where he's taken across the entire room, and some people struggle to keep him up. He's high fiving, someone's sucking his toes, his band plays Smells Like Teen Spirit, the whole thing takes hero worship to its natural conclusion.

Encore? Mac DeMarco sneaks out alone, shirtless now, and then his band join him. It's Enter Sandman. The band thrashes the song out, with assistance from Watson, all wailing guitars, someone getting crushed in the audience, a look of glee on DeMarco's face as one final death circle forms below.