There are common, run-of-the-mill bands that make a decent album and tour and get by with their live chops. There are bands that make great albums, but can’t completely transition this to a great live show. And then there are bands that make great albums and play the same music and are able to make the audience feel the music in a way they cannot at home on their stereo. Tame Impala definitely fall in that third category, and even though the Australian psychedelic rock band from Perth has made two (heavenly) albums – Innerspeaker and Lonerism – Kevin Parker deserves the same recognition as most front-men, like Thom Yorke, James Murphy, and all the indie darlings we crown have crowned as visionaries as of late. And, personally, I’m sure we will – just give it time.
The Growl, their opening band, trudged through bluesy songs that seem to fit right in their hometown of Perth, the same home as the headliner. What was most disconcerting was the crowd’s displeasure and disrespect for the band’s lead singer. When he performed his solo song, the crowd muttered in a loud drone over his quiet, whispering guitar and slow vocals. Other than the solo song, the band did power through its set of angst-fueled blues/garage rock tracks, with “John The Revelator” being a defining moment of the set.
From the moment Kevin Parker came from the back entrance onto the stage and within view, one could feel that the crowd was sincerely electrified and spellbound. Running on stage and “counting in” the band, they shot off into their spectacularly dazed “Desire Be Desire Go,” which led off into a swirling, breathtaking jam session in the middle of the song. Parker softly said some things before he shot off into a highlight of his newest album, Lonerism. “Apocalypse Dreams” had the crowd singing along every word, chanting “This could be the day we push through / This could be the day all our dreams come true” and sat back for the ride. Listening to “Apocalypse Dreams,” one could melt into the music and become one in some heavenly blur of reality. After hearing this song live, you could never think the apocalypse was a bad thing – more like a time to cherish and achieve everything.
Tame Impala’s “Elephant”
“It Is Not Meant To Be” spread into the crowd, with it’s distinctly warping guitar, gyrating and affixing to every pleasure receptor in the near sold-out crowd’s brain. For every reason in the world, it was meant to be. Leading off into another jam, the band’s keyboardist smiled big and said some words after the song, while Parker cut him off with the intro riff to “Solitude Is Bliss.” Pulsating, the song thumbs around and the hook cuts deep into the crowd, creating a hop-fest throughout. As the crowd jumped to the beat of the hook, Parker let loose an incendiary guitar solo worth remembering for years.
A few songs later, after the band had jammed for a while and the crowd was itching for more and more, Kevin whispered, in his strangely optimistic but reserved tone, “This one’s called ‘Elephant.’” Jamming for a very long time and thundering along with perfect rhythms, the two guitarists played in harmony – blissfully recreating every note that is encompassed in the best song on 2012’s Lonerism. Waxing-waning psych-dazed rhythms spilled out of the amplifiers, filling the audience with the utmost feeling on infinity. As another personal note, I felt, while watching Parker throw a glow-in-the-dark elephant, and syncing back into the song, that I transcended to higher plane of existence when he started back up into the chugging psychedelia. With his transient, serene voice and brilliant talent on guitar, I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt this.
Much later in the night, “Half Full Glass of Wine” another guitarist (who was usually the keyboardist) excitedly bounded about the stage, with Parker jumping and headbanging right along. Every moment of this song’s performance on Parker’s end was magnificent. Whispering and then reaching higher and higher notes, Parker mystified the entire crowd by pulling everything out and doing everything he could to put on a great show. Barefoot and all, he still managed to jump around and freak out physically. The encore, “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control” was drenched in layers of psychedelia and matching emotion from Parker.
Tame Impala has proven that psychedelic music is not dead or dying. If anything, Tame Impala has been the instinctual revival of this music – by calling on the best of the old and shining with bright, bleeding lights of today. This concert only echoed the very same sentiments that many fans, critics, and bands have on their minds about this band. Also, seeing The Flaming Lips (Kliph Scurlock, Wayne Coyne, and Steven Drozd – Michael Ivins was nowhere to be found) – who were also in attendance within the crowd – as captivated as they were could only be a true affirmation of their talent level. They had the same face the entire crowd had – amazement. As my last personal note, seeing my idols (The Flaming Lips) on the same level as me made me feel like I was watching something very, very special. Tame Impala is the successor within today’s psych-pop music – move over Radiohead and every other band.
It’s Tame Impala’s time to shine.
Written by Dylan Tracy
OurVinyl | Contributor