By Liam Rockwell
When I arrived at the Phoenix Theatre, the only thing I could use to give an interview was my Voice Memos app and three last-minute questions I scribbled down onto my Notes app on the car ride. I had no clue there would be any chance of having an interview until my friend, the drummer for a band that frequently plays at the Phoenix, mentioned that he knew both a secret way to get backstage, as well as where bands and performers would leave the theater after the show, or where we could maybe catch him taking a smoke break and get to meet him.
So what I had was the bare minimum needed to conduct an interview, and absolutely no idea if I could even meet him. I figured what I would do was I would write a review of the show, and if I got the chance to interview him, I would write about that too.
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma was the sharp contrast between the pillars on either side of the stage; which were very poetic and seemed almost ancient; and the graffiti that surrounded it. The whole place had this garage-punk theme that was absolutely incredible.
The opening act, Vicky Farewell, set a fun mood within the crowd, although her more pop-infused, produced sound clashed with the main act’s style, in doing so it also brought forth some effective musical distinctions. She is an extremely talented pianist and vocalist.
But although her skills in performance were on point, I noticed that with each friendly (although they didn’t seem so friendly) jab at her keyboardist, the audience was turned off and grew less engaged. Although she clearly has a close, healthy friendship with him where they jokingly talk trash about each other, it felt as though a lot of that trash-talk didn’t translate well into a live performance, on top of that an opening act where she was less likely to be performing for fans who are aware of the relationship she had with him.
The main act, Mac DeMarco, unsurprisingly, is an extremely charismatic and talented performer. He is great at interacting with his audience, and does not shy away from his unique and entertaining personality, in fact when he’s on stage he fully embraces it. From his eccentric dancing to his hilarious interactions with the bassist Daryl Johns, he put on one of the greatest and most memorable shows I’ve seen in a while.
Some memorable moments were him Mongolian throat singing at one point between songs, dubbing a girl in the crowd who was blowing bubbles with a bubble machine “Eliose the Bubble Girl”, and when offered a cigarette by someone in the front row, revealing that he had recently quit, which came as a surprise to many as smoking cigarettes was a big part of his public image.
However, there was one moment where his eccentric personality, while still funny to most of the people in the room, may not have translated well to some others. That moment being when he and bassist Daryl Johns, who frequently interacted with each other during the show, started spitting on each other. Most of the audience laughed at its over-the-topness, including myself and my friends, but I noticed some people in front of me looking at each other, a little grossed out. Overall, however, it was a fantastic show that I won’t forget anytime soon.
After the show, my group got separated in front of the theater and my friend yelled at the rest of us that we were going to where we could meet Mac, which resulted in us all walking around to the back of the theater… along with some people who overheard us yell at them… and the people they brought… and it kind of snowballed into a pretty big group of people waiting behind the theater to meet him. Sorry, Mac.
And sorry to the kid in the hoodie who had been there since the morning and was just waiting to get some sleep, because it was midnight and he had to look over the crowd of people we accidentally gathered and keep them from jumping the barricade to where Mac’s tour bus was. He wasn’t in a really great mood, although he took a liking to my drummer friend because he “liked his pants” and when Mac was getting ready to say hi to us and we were all forming a single-file line to meet him, he let us stand in the front.
They were pretty cool pants, not gonna lie.
Anyways, eventually Mac DeMarco came out, and I remember exactly the reaction from the group, the muffled enthusiasm because while most of the people were freaking out, they didn’t want to seem like they were die-hard superfans in front of Mac. They all of a sudden got really self-conscious about how they appeared to him. He talked to the kids in charge of the group and then he said hi to my friend who was in the front of the line. They chatted for a bit, took a selfie, it was pretty quick. Then it was my turn.
Mac was genuinely a really cool person. He was super sweet and authentic. I told him I was a fan of his music and got a picture, but I figured that it would have been really inappropriate to conduct an interview no matter how short because of all the people behind me. Little bit of a bummer, but I didn’t sweat it. I had no choice. But then I went back to my friends and showed the picture to them, and when I looked back at Mac, the person who was right behind me in line was chatting up a storm with him. No one else was batting an eye, and Mac wasn’t annoyed at all. I could have totally conducted a super short three-questioned interview and it would not have been a problem. I was so mad at myself!
But at the end of the day, it was an incredible show and an incredible experience meeting Mac DeMarco, and I’m extremely grateful for it. The Phoenix theater is a great venue, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for great music and an engaging atmosphere.