The Shadow Electric, 16/12/2013
Breathing life into a chilly dusk, Scotdrakula play a particularly incendiary form of messy, Reatard-esque rock, and quickly prove a smart choice for the opening act. Beneath a long, steady stream of bats flying above and a distractingly good documentary about Australian wildlife projected on the massive cinema screen behind them, the three-piece set fire to any preconceptions punters may have about what a three-piece is capable of.
Guitarist and vocal cord shredder Matt Neumann is a riveting presence and exuberant instigator of the violent fun and lingering sense of danger that charaterises the best garage rock. Avalanche is driven by a sharp, violent melody, Idlewild hellish rockabilly and their latest assault Break Me Up a high point of the night. Kicking goal after goal, the audience respond in similarly euphoric bursts of noisy appreciation.
Described in his promotional material as 'slack rocker and complete charmer', DeMarco is, in fact, anything but. Well, if you're charmed by profuse belching, spontaneous assessments of strangers' penises and generally acting like a drunk uncle, then Mac’s your man.
Opening with one of the musical high points of 2012, Cooking Up Something Good, Mac DeMarco and his three-piece lock straight into a raw and mercurial boogie. With the warmly appreciative crowd already on side, the band ease into Stars Keep on Calling My Name and the system is set. Gone are the gentle, humble songs that make his most recent album 2, so good. In their place are chunky, garage-rock makeovers that really really work.
"I’m seeing a lot of eyes but I’m not seeing a lot of shaking Melbourne," says self-declared ‘dickhead from Jersey’ and bassist Pierce McGarry. "You’re screwing us over!" DeMarco goes for the old "Sydney gave us more. You guys have gotta top them right?" angle and both techniques work. OH&S goes out the window as shirts are stripped, people climb on shoulders and crowdsurfing kicks off. He’s got us right where he wants us, and we’re rewarded with a killer set. Viceroy, Annie, a rare outing of Me and John Hanging Out and scorching takes on Freakin’ Out the Neighbourhood and Baby’s Wearing Blue Jeans during which DeMarco and McGarry viciously make out with each other ("Hey man, you taste of Taco Bell," says McGarry offhand. "That’s just what it tastes like when a heterosexual man kisses another man," DeMarco shrugs.
McGarry requests to "see some penises", earns several compliant punters complementary assessments from DeMarco. A penis-themed cover of Weezer’s Sweater follows and leads the gig into the band’s divisive but passionate ‘covers’ section. Blackbird, Takin’ Care of Business and phenomenally half-assed versions of Enter Sandman and Stairway to Heaven raise the sloppy party vibe and close the set with a very happy audience howling for more. Charming? Maybe, but anyone who can turn the Abbotsford Convent into a house party has a lot more than just charm.