A couple of weeks ago I penned a little note to myself and left it on the kitchen counter: “10 AM Thursday- Mac tickets”. I planned to wake up and snag a ticket to see Mac Demarco at Stubb’s in October (October! Is he really that big or am I really that obsessed?) before StubHub scalpers snatched them up. I missed Mac the last few times he was in town and certainly wasn’t about to do so again.
Once upon a time I was a type-A overachiever. I ran on good grades, resume boosters, and the promise of a top-notch college that would, of course, lead to a successful career in journalism, a field I’d arbitrarily chosen because it sounded smart, competitive and decisive.
I’m not really sure how I went from stressed-out, maxed-out high school me to the lazy fuck I am today. Was it growing older? Starting college? Choosing a different field of study? Getting a spontaneous tattoo (or two)? Realizing that all my childhood dreams were futile? Drinking? It’s hard to tell. But despite the fact that I am still, technically, a pretty functional person most of the time, I’ve become much more ~chill~ in the past couple of years. And in some ways, my taste in music has mellowed out too. I like slacker rock and I’m not afraid to admit it. For the past year or so I’ve been a devoted fan of the genre and of its patron saint, Mac Demarco.
What is so goddamn great about Mac Demarco? He’s a critic’s darling, but also a goofball icon, stoner hero, and live experience that is, so I’ve been told, unforgettable (and kinda gross- I expect dick jokes to abound and I can’t wait). His music is the definition of mellow, but not the least bit shallow. He’s an average dude with a signature sound and talent that may be echoed but can’t be replicated. I’ll spare you a detailed review of “Salad Days”- as that’d be far too late at this point- but I will say that Mac’s third album is an all-time favorite of mine. And his older stuff, while rougher, is equally excellent- shit, “2” may have a spot on the all-time favorites list as well. His newest release “The Way You’d Love Her” is also super nifty, the perfect lazy love song to welcome yet another sunny summer.
I think that liking Mac is kind of cliché now. I’m willing to bet that there are going to be a hell of a lot of tech bros swaying drunkenly to “Blue Boy” at Stubb’s in October (although this is an occupational hazard one will likely encounter at pretty much any halfway-big Austin show, to be fair).
But fuck it. The fact is that Mac and his contemporaries have helped me chill the fuck out, and for that, I’ll elbow some dudes in Tommy Bahama shirts to see my profanity-spewing love do weird shit on stage.
Mac’s music is the soundtrack to a life lived a little more slowly: to days spent sunning like a lizard and ignoring my phone, to driving at a leisurely pace rather than rushing from place to place, to lazy kisses and mornings with no alarm clocks. It’s the foil to a mind that just won’t shut off. It’s both sweet and totally irreverent. It’s both upbeat and peacefully resigned. When I moved home for a couple of months last summer I swear I played “Salad Days” every single day as I drove to work:
As I’m getting older, chip up on my shoulder
Rolling through life, to roll over and die
Always feeling tired, smiling when required
Write another year off and kindly resign
Because if that doesn’t sum up the mellow defeatedness of spending your first summer of college back in your shitty hometown, what does?
I’ve seen several distinct definitions of slacker rock. Some call it a late 80’s/early 90’s offshoot of grunge (Pavement). Some use it to describe any musician who comes off as somewhat not-really-giving-a-fuck and has a guitar (apparently Courtney Barnett? Huh?). I’m personally using slacker rock to describe music that the uninitiated may simply write off as “chill”. Or, more specifically, I’m thinking of shit that’s on the slower, mellower side, a little lo-fi, and at least somewhat lyrically fitting of the slacker lifestyle (ya know, being a lazy fuck). I realize that this is something of a loose, not-really-well-thought-out definition, but hey- I’m a lazy fuck too.
There are downsides to being a bit of a slacker, of course, just as there’s plenty of crappy slacker rock out there, because when you do things halfway, they are generally bad. Even chilled-out artists like Mac put serious work into their music. Sometimes I really struggle with getting motivated to put a similar amount of effort into all the shit I have to do, and the “Ode to Viceroy”-induced desire to just chill certainly doesn’t help matters. So I don’t romanticize my own sloth- but I do like living a life that’s a little less anxious than it once was. I doubt I can really thank Mac for that in any direct way, but I sure do appreciate him providing the background music. And I can’t wait to head-bob along with a goofy smile on my face when I finally see my great unwashed love in October.
Ignore your responsibilities with a playlist of my favorite Mac songs and some other slacker rock jams I’ve been digging this year.