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REVIEW: Music is the only thing Mac DeMarco is serious about at first ‘Austin City Limits’ taping

You can't shine a pair of Vans. And you can't ask Mac DeMarco, even for his first "Austin City Limits" taping, not to drink directly from a bottle of stage-wine. 

"It's Cab-Sav. It's French," he told the crowd. 

The wine, a midshow handstand, stage decor that included more than one doll head -- all are tricks pulled from the large bag the "gap-toothed, goofy, slacker rock kid from Edomonton" hauls to his shows.

He’s known for shoving a cigarette between the gap and once shoving a drumstick somewhere else. The crowd, which is usually very young and which he always surfs, loves it. Every antic, but the grosser ones even more.

READ: Mac DeMarco fits Austin like a glove

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Even though Tuesday’s taping was at the same venue DeMarco used a lighter to burn some of his chest hair off on stage five months ago, he started the show notably determined to behave.

“No rock and roll stuff tonight,” he said before launching into a quiet version of “On the Level.” All it took was a few moans to get him to retrace, “Well maybe after a little more wine. Then maybe some rock and roll stuff.”

Through 2015’s “Another One” and crowd favorite “Ode to Viceroy” DeMarco kept it tame. After brand new song, and maybe energized by its reveal, “One Another” he started throwing pieces of pound cake into the crowd. Who ate it, as you do at a Mac DeMarco show, off the floor.

Moody Theater was only a little more than half full, but it only facilitated the one-on-one interactions DeMarco is known for. Two fans requested to come on stage and play a song with him. One, of the Cab-Sav, asked, “Can I have a sip?” Another, with only 10 minutes left in the taping, “Will you sing happy birthday to my brother?”

DeMarco supplied his “new friends” maracas after summoning them on stage, demanded to see I.D. before relinquishing his wine glass and spent at least a minute singing a young-looking Julian a very happy birthday. 

DeMarco ended the show by switching places with his drummer who led the crowd in a deadpanned rendition of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge.”

But other than that, the music was not a joke. 

With probably only half the screaming teens he’s used to (”We don’t get to do things like this often. Normally they want my blood.”) and stripped of his trusty synthesizer, DeMarco stood in front of a fake Austin skyline and revealed what’s under the ironic baseball cap. A crooner. 

A bandleader who motions behind his back for his drummer to keep it soft with the hand that isn’t holding a plastic cup of wine. A musician who, suddenly serious, demands a restart to “Dreams from Yesterday” when the tempo’s not right. A singer who cares about the musicality of his performance and those who keep coming to see it as much as he does the skits in between. 

But also a 27-year-old who ended his taping by promising a “nasty” Mohawk show the following day and with an apology.

“Sorry if we annoyed you.” 

The crowd cheered.

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