Mac DeMarco opens ACL’s 44th taping season with soft jams

photo by Scott Newton

A new season of Austin City Limits begins, and we were happy to open Season 44 with a rising artist making his debut on our stage: singer and songwriter Mac DeMarco. Celebrating his acclaimed fourth LP This Old Dog, the Canadian-turned-Californian by way of Far Rockaway, Queens, graced his loyal fans with an interactive set of his distinctive soul-flavored soft rock, which we streamed live around the world.

Taking a stage artfully cluttered with fake fruit, real pound cake, plenty of red wine, a Michael Jackson mask and assorted bric-a-brac, DeMarco and his four-piece backing band launched into the smoothly flowing “On the Level,” from This Old Dog. Switching to acoustic guitar, DeMarco revisited his second LP Salad Days via the poppy title track. Then it was back to the new album, as the creamy sound of an electric grand piano signalled the drift into “For the First Time,” a very eighties-sounding soft rocker that thrilled the under twenty-something crowd and prompted livestream viewer Pierce Hannah to rave “Mac Daddy rocking the yacht rock vest with these smooth, smooth tunes.”  “We’ve never played this song as a band,” DeMarco noted, introducing the lightly rocking “One Another,” “but we’re gonna try to play it for you.” That successfully pulled off, he and the band cheekily kicked into its opposite number “Another One,” highlighted by a twangy guitar solo. Following a brief interlude in which the engaging rocker shared parmesan cheese (the powdered stuff, that is, not freshly grated) from one of the Italian restaurant-style tables adorning the stage, to the delight of the grateful front row, DeMarco essayed the title track of This Old Dog, a spell-binding dreamy pop tune.

“Now we’re gonna play a song we haven’t played in…four years?” DeMarco noted. “Fifteen years,” quipped guitarist Andy White. “The last time we played this song I was thirteen.” This was the intro to the easygoing “Brother,” from Salad Days. “So take it slow now, brother/Let it go,” the singer crooned over a languid, soul-influenced groove. Keeping it casual, DeMarco explained the next song was about his father, with the genial host again offering pound cake to his guests as the band went into a piano-heavy soft pop tune. He invited a couple of exuberant young fans to join him onstage, and after a quick lesson in shakers, the duo added to the percolating percussion. The band then reached back to his second album, the appropriately titled 2, for “Ode to Viceroy,” another easygoing pop song with harmony Stratocaster licks at the end. After sharing some red wine with another fan (whose ID he checked first), it was back to TOD, for the languorous “Dreams From Yesterday.”

One rendition of “Happy Birthday” to a fan later, DeMarco rode a jazzy, soul-pop vibe into “Chamber of Reflection,” powered by clapping from the crowd. He closed the show with the sugary romance of “Still Together,” on which he showed off a striking falsetto. Before the song was over, however, drummer Joe McMurray switched places with DeMarco to lead the crowd in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge.” Then DeMarco reclaimed the mic for another couple of choruses of “Still Together,” before quitting the stage. It was a refreshing ending to the show, letting the audience down easy instead of overwhelming them with bombast. We can’t wait for you to see it when his show airs this fall on your local PBS station.   

ACL to livestream Mac DeMarco taping on Feb. 27

photo by Coley Brown

Austin City Limits is excited to announce that we will be livestreaming our first taping of Season 44: the debut of singer/songwriter Mac DeMarco on Monday, February 27. We’ll be beaming live directly from the ACL stage at 8pm CT/9 pm ET on ACLTV’s YouTube channel.  

Called the “lovable laid-back prince of indie rock” by the New York Times, Mac DeMarco (aka 27-year old MacBriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco) released This Old Dog, his third album and first full-length since 2014’s Salad Days, last year via indie label Captured Tracks. It was a little space—in time, location (he moved from Queens to Los Angeles), and method—that inspired the Canadian native while making This Old Dog. Arriving in California with a grip of demos he’d written in New York, he realized after a few months of setting up his new shop that the gap was giving him perspective. “I demoed a full album, and as I was moving to the West Coast I thought I’d get to finishing it quickly,” DeMarco says. “But then I realized that moving to a new city, and starting a new life takes time. Usually I just write, record, and put it out; no problem. But this time, I wrote them and they sat. When that happens, you really get to know the songs. It was a different vibe.” DeMarco wrote demos for This Old Dog on an acoustic guitar, an eye-opening method for him. “The majority of this album is acoustic guitar, synthesizer, some drum machine, and one song is electric guitar. So this is a new thing for me.”  This Old Dog is rooted more in a synth-base than any of his previous releases, but he is careful not to let that tactic overshadow the other instruments and overall “unplugged” mood of the work. “This is my acoustic album, but it’s not really an acoustic album at all. That’s just what it feels like, mostly. I’m Italian, so I guess this is an Italian rock record.”

Join us on February 27 for this full-set livestream on our ACLTV YouTube channel. The broadcast version will air on PBS later this as part of our Season 44.

Giveaway: Mac DeMarco 2/27

photo by Coley Brown

UPDATE: Giveaway is now over

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Mac DeMarco on Tuesday, Feb. 27th at 8 pm at ACL Live at The Moody Theater (310 W. 2nd Street, Willie Nelson Blvd). We will be giving away a limited number of space available passes to this taping. Enter your name and email address on the below form by noon on Thursday, Feb. 15th

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pickup tickets. Winners will be notified by email. Passes are not transferable and cannot be sold. Standing may be required. No photography, recording or cell phone use in the studio. No cameras computers or recording devices allowed in venue.

New tapings: Mac DeMarco and Brandi Carlile

photo by Coley Brown

Austin City Limits is happy to announce the first new tapings for 2018’s Season 44, with the debut of fast-rising singer/songwriter Mac DeMarco on February 27 and the return of acclaimed singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile on April 10 at ACL Live at the Moody Theater. The DeMarco taping will also be livestreamed around the world.

Mac DeMarco (aka 27-year old MacBriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco) released This Old Dog, his third album and first full-length since 2014’s Salad Days, on May 5th, 2017, via Captured Tracks. It was a little space—in time, location (he moved from Queens to Los Angeles), and method—that inspired the Canadian native while making This Old Dog. Arriving in California with a grip of demos he’d written in New York, he realized after a few months of setting up his new shop that the gap was giving him perspective. “I demoed a full album, and as I was moving to the West Coast I thought I’d get to finishing it quickly,” DeMarco says. “But then I realized that moving to a new city, and starting a new life takes time. Usually I just write, record, and put it out; no problem. But this time, I wrote them and they sat. When that happens, you really get to know the songs. It was a different vibe.” DeMarco wrote demos for This Old Dog on an acoustic guitar, an eye-opening method for him. “The majority of this album is acoustic guitar, synthesizer, some drum machine, and one song is electric guitar. So this is a new thing for me.”  This Old Dog is rooted more in a synth-base than any of his previous releases, but he is careful not to let that tactic overshadow the other instruments and overall “unplugged” mood of the work. “This is my acoustic album, but it’s not really an acoustic album at all. That’s just what it feels like, mostly. I’m Italian, so I guess this is an Italian rock record.”

photo by Alysse Gafkjenh

Having first appeared on ACL in 2010 and most recently paid tribute to Roy Orbison in the 2017 ACL Hall of Fame New Year’s Eve celebration, Brandi Carlile comes back in celebration of her seventh album, By The Way, I Forgive You, produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb and acclaimed musician Shooter Jennings. Already receiving widespread acclaim, NPR Music’s Ann Powers asserts, “By The Way, I Forgive You takes Carlile and her longtime bandmates, Phil and Tim Hanseroth, into a new space of risk-taking—as well as the emotional stratosphere. A country-rock aria dedicated to the delicate boys and striving girls born into—and, Carlile insists, destined to triumph over—this divisive time, ‘The Joke’ offers a stunning vocal performance from Carlile, swathed in warm piano, big drums and a perfect string arrangement.” Additionally, The New York Times praises, “Motherhood is disruptive, messy, inconvenient, enlightening and triumphant in ‘The Mother’…Its fingerpicking folk-rock unfurls from a blurry awakening to unabashed pride and joy,” while XPN The Key calls it, “an achingly heartfelt and quietly powerful track.” Recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, By The Way, I Forgive You includes ten new songs written by Carlile and longtime collaborators and bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth. Of their close relationship, Carlile comments, “The Twins and I have been in a band for so long now. And not just a band, we are literally a family. When you create art with twins, it becomes unclear when I end and where they begin.” Over the course of their acclaimed career, the band has released six albums, including 2015’s The Firewatcher’s Daughter, which garnered a Grammy nomination for “Best Americana Album.”

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast version will air on PBS as part of our Season 44.