Tame Impala at The Royale

It’s not always a good thing when a show is sold out. Sometimes that means half the audience really only bought tickets to hear some catchy single, and they won’t stop rudely shouting out their requests until their demands are met. Other times it means that the venue is honestly too small for it’s undertaking, and unless you’ve been waiting out front since your lunch break, you won’t be seeing much besides a silhouetted light show behind some tall dude’s hoodie. Tonight’s sold out show meant something entirely different. It felt as if most every fringe and alternative music fan under 25 was at the Royale tonight, and quite the youthful celebration welcomed The Amazing and Tame Impala.

Swedish folk-psych rockers The Amazing know exactly how to do what they have traveled 4,000 miles to do. They play their music, and they don’t let anything else get in the way. These five guys all took to the stage as if they were suiting up for a relaxed basement jam session, but their song’s did much more than ad-lib their way around a 30 minute set. Just because there was a noticeably lengthy instrumental break on essentially every song the band performed, doesn’t mean that The Amazing have any self-indulgent intentions behind their music. I am convinced that their nu-jazz style of musicianship is all a part of what makes them so successful as performers.

Even though band comparisons are always broad and overly vague, something can, and should, be said about the Fleet Foxes-esque vocals that Christoff Gunrup delivers which coordinate so nicely with the band’s Sigur Ros-like thick and sonically full song progressions. Whether it was the vibrant flute, the methodical drum fills, or the bouncy and very much alive bass grooves that supported Christoff’s singing, the music felt somewhat familiar — yet entirely authentic from start to finish.

“Flashlight” from 2012’s Gentle Stream was so blissfully fun to hear live, and even more fun to watch. As if understanding and internalizing the lyrics of the band wasn’t tough enough on their recorded music, the word’s were definitely not a main priority tonight, and who says there is anything wrong with that. Everybody in the band was so concentrated and intent on their musical performance, and that commitment left a lasting impression on me.

If The Amazing conjured up resemblance to the more recent acts Fleet Foxes and Sigur Ros, Australian-based Tame Impala might be a modern descendant of both Dark Side Pink Floyd and post-Rubber Soul Beatles (it’s also hard to ignore the Fab Four similarities when there was both a Rickenbacker and a Höfner bass on stage). Psychedelic music isn’t something that gets much attention these days, and that seems to be just what Tame Impala want to change. Self-described as makers of “psychedelic hypno-groove melodic rock music,” Kevin Parker and the band weren’t afraid to take tonight’s young crowd on a straight up weird journey.

With a retro and trippy video projected behind the band, dripping wet phase pedals galore, and never faltering back beats from the drum kit, Tame Impala did everything just right in order to get the audience moving to this eccentric music. As the show progressed the songs got louder and faster and heavier and the audience responded the same way.

By the time “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” came up on the setlist, Kevin had to gently remind the audience that crowd surfing might not always be the best idea, and that enjoying the music was more important. I understood his point, and am even on his side, but my goodness, I wonder if he realize that his lively music just has that intense affect on people. In any case, Kevin was apparently having an emotional night; evidently their last stop was not nearly as well responding as we were here in Boston, and at one point during his thanks to the audience he seemed to get a little choked up.

You know a band is doing something right when their opener, who is touring with them and sees them perform every night, still finds it enjoyable to sit backstage and really watch intently as the headliner plays, and that is exactly what a few members from The Amazing were doing during Tame Impala’s hard thumping, distortion rich, angst driving song “Elephant.” Both bands tonight were a part the reason for the sold out show, and they were also each a part of the reason that surely no fan left the Royale disappointed.

By Chris Paredes
Photo by Alex Lau

If you liked this, check out:
Yeasayer at the House of Blues
Heartless Bastards Live at The Royale

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