Review by Chloe Gynne with Photography by Robert Barrett

It’s the first hot day of summer, and Margate is packed. The beachfront is full of bikini-clad sunbathers, Kentish families slurping melted 99s and locals strolling with panting dogs.

Mac Demarco

Most of those people would, on an average summer’s day, pop to Dreamland for their mid-price, mid-excitement rollercoasters and rides. But today they can’t; instead, it’s packed to the brim of Kent’s youth, sporting oversized shirts and caps, a la Mac DeMarco’s Salad Days, or instead channeling Another One, all dungarees and scruff.

It’s fair to say that DeMarco has become something of a hero to these small town indie kids. Perhaps it’s something to do with his brand of woozy, escapist indie; it likely helps relieve the discomfort of an increasing generational divide happening in small towns across the UK, and especially in this Thanet town.

Their hero worship may, however, just be because they’re young and impressionable. That shines through at the Amyl and the Sniffers set, which hurtles into full speed in seconds, but isn’t, at first, well attended. By the end, though, a circle pit has formed, and there’s no doubt that the Australian band made a number of fans tonight. Rightly so – their brand of careless punk is undoubtedly joyous.

Amyl and the Sniffers

Amyl and the Sniffers

On the main stage, Aldous Harding brings a change of pace. It’s perfectly timed; the heat is taking its toll on the crowd, and many take the opportunity to sit and absorb songs from her new album Designer. Like the album, the set is a slow burn; Harding plucks studiously at her guitar, legs wide open, eyes rolling back in her head as she mulls over mystical lines. The Barrel, played as the temperature finally begins to cool a little, sounds like it was made for the moment.

Aldous Harding

It’s hard to tell if that calm will be continued or halted by Mac DeMarco’s appearance onstage; we all know of his previous antics, and his ability to de-mellow his own songs with random outbursts. Tonight, however, he’s as chill as the crowd, who sway joyously to Salad Days.

It’s likely a result of the heat. Shedding his shirt halfway through the set, he reminds the crowd to “respect your neighbours, say hello, and stay hydrated”. The crowd, sweaty and contented, respect his demands, and opt for impassioned sing-alongs instead of pushing and shoving; it’s that relaxed bliss that makes their singalong of My Kind Of Woman a highlight of the night.

Mac Demarco

Mac Demarco

On the outskirts of the venue, however, there isn’t so much joy. Since the mid-afternoon, queues for food, drinks and toilets have been dangerously long, with many stuck in queues for an hour- a genuine concern on a day so hot, and likely the reason for at least half of the queasy-looking faces spotted on the trains back towards London. Even as Mac glides through old favourite Ode To Viceroy, many stand with their backs to the stage, determined to get to the front of a queue once today.

Either way, fans rejoice that Mac chose to visit Margate, and embrace him with a welcome Mac plays up to, smiling at his crowd. Margate, like DeMarco, is in transition. Both are known for being a little scrappy, a bit off-centre, but both are making an effort to regenerate.

Mac Demarco

Mac Demarco

DeMarco has grown up in the last year or two, shedding much of the façade that often diminished his talent. He’s still goofy, and his set retains that sense of absolute fun he provides, but he’s also unafraid of presenting his songs exactly as they are- flashes of summery nostalgia for a moment that hasn’t yet happened.

Mac Demarco

Mac DemarcoMac Demarco

See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

Yellow Days

Yellow Days

Thurston Moore

Thurston Moore

Thurston Moore

Kirin J Callinan

Kirin J Callinan

Girl Ray

Girl Ray

Girl Ray

Blueprint Blue

Blueprint Blue

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