Connor Barwin's benefit show helps Make the World Better
Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman |

“We are just so pleased to be here to announce our undying loyalty to the Philadelphia Eagles, tonight,” one of the members of Parquet Courts said, late on Saturday evening. Even though the evening’s festivities were being hosted by Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin, #sports took a backseat to help make the world better.

The show blurred the lines between three fairly distinct worlds: music, sports and charity.  But after last year’s phenomenally successful first iteration of the Make the World Better Foundation benefit show — featuring our homies The Districts and Kurt Vile — there was little doubt that the event would be back, and bigger than ever. Barwin continues to demonstrate impeccable taste in music, calling on the diverse talents of four fantastic acts to play this years show.

First up on the evening’s bill as one of Connor’s — and ours, as well— recent favorite discoveries. Houston, TX-based The Suffers bring the soul vibes, on a massive scale. As the ten-piece band packed onto the stage, they huddled together and started a chant — breaking out to start their first song on an upbeat note. Working their way through an hour-long set, the group won hearts and minds with their authentically fun sound.

After a snappy set change, Philly’s Marian Hill were on next. After my first-ever experience with them at last year’s XPoNential Festival, I couldn’t wait to see them again, and this show gave me just that chance.  And just as I had expected, they didn’t disappoint in the slightest. The transition from an afternoon timeslot at a festival to a proper club does well on them, too. The sensual, shifting and building magic of their music feels right when punctuated with flashing lights and drifting smoke. I only wish they had been able to connect more with the packed crowd of #cool #teens who were mostly just there to see Mac DeMarco, and who couldn’t be bothered to loosen up and dance even a little bit.

Luckily, those confounded kids didn’t have to wait long to see the object of their desire. Just after Marian Hill exited stage right, Mac himself slunk onto the stage, pushing his guitar amp. The crowd surged forward, screaming and throwing notes onto the stage for him to read. Wearing his trademark goonish grin, he scooped them up and put them in the pockets of his camo overalls before strapping on his guitar. It’s been a while since we’ve seen DeMarco in town — he even mentioned that during his set. Even this was technically only a solo set, but that didn’t change a thing for the adoring fans who had helped make the benefit show sold out.

Seeing Mac DeMarco perform live is a truly interesting thing. He’s a musician, but also very much of a personality. A performer, but a person. The two are inseparable — or are they? The cloyingly goofy nature of Mac’s live presence (as well as persona for interviews and other media appearances) are almost too good to be his real deal. But whether or not the goon he plays on stage is legit, his music certainly passes the test. Performing solo, Mac’s down-to-earth songwriting and slinky guitar numbers really stand out. Never having seen him play with a full band, I can’t say it’s better or worse, but I can’t help but feel that something would be lost in translation.

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman |

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman |

A friend of mine once described Mac as “the cigarettes of indie music” — not particularly good, but once you’ve started, you’re completely hooked. It’s fairly accurate, and I remembered the quote as teens in the audience started throwing loosies and lighters on the stage, in hopes that Mac would pick theirs to light up with. Even though his music is just okay, at least the kids in the audience were helping make the world a little bit better with their ticket buy.

Finally, the reigning champs of snark-rock Parquet Courts hit the stage to close out the evening. It seemed like 50% of the crowd left after Mac DeMarco, which actually proved to be a treat for Parquet Courts fans — as they started moshing post-haste. They powered through a tight-knit set of numbers from their pair of 2014 releases Content Nausea and Sunbathing Animal, as well as some older tracks from Light Up Gold — all interspersed with short witticisms and “thank yous”.

Any way you cut it, the show was a touchdown for the Make the World Better Foundation. They ended up raising quite a good deal of money for Smith Playground, at 24th and Jackson, while having a damn good time in the process. Go #sports.

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