Tame Impala Live at HOB

Tame ImpalaTame Impala is still feeling out its listener base in the U.S., but if a packed venue full of Bostonians positively drooling for the on-the-rise Australian act is any indication, they’re getting damn close. After openers and fellow Aussies The Growl opened the house with their garage sound, Kevin Parker’s ever-growing pet project took the stage with an atmospheric, trippy but not distracting set pulled mostly from sensational 2012 album Lonerism.

The centerpiece of this show, the last in their most recent crop of U.S. tour dates, was not the band itself—on the oversized House of Blues screen pulsed a screen of colored waves that responded to the synth, vocals, guitar, drums, and bass of the four-piece waves. Think an advanced Windows screensaver blown up to fifty times the size and plugged into your favorite band’s body of work, and you’re in a stoner’s paradise. Even the band paid the digital screen an almost bizarre amount of reverence, taking a few musical breaks to play a tune merely to stimulate a picture on the screen.

With only two studio albums in their repertoire since their beginnings in 2007, the guys were able to divide their attention between their hits and their atmospheric concert jams with relative ease, opening their first full tune with “Solitude is Bliss” from 2010′s Innerspeaker, the sound never broke through the whole show, with Parker’s vocals weaving their way through the show amidst a sea of electronic sound. Amongst the best of the night were the tracks from Lonerism– the audience was itching to hear them, and the band was excited to deliver. Leading single “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” killed in the crowd, but the best performance of the night was easily the electro-metal “Elephant”. Pulsing with energy, the song brought it right up to the very end, when Parker stopped singing six seconds before the song to drummer Julien Barbagallo, who took a two-minute solo before the band started to play a different tune altogether. Four minutes later, the audience was nearly exploding for the last few notes of the song, and Parker was almost laughing as he delivered the last “yeah” of the song. Other notable tracks included “Alter Ego”, an explosion of sound during “Mind Mischief”, and long solo-ed closer “Half Full Glass of Wine”. Occasional back-up drummer, guitarist, and vocalist Jay “Gumby” Watson hyped the audience for a final number that sums up the Tame Impala body of work in both sound and word, “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Can Control”.

Interestingly, the group tours with a different, larger lineup than their core studio group, but the sound remains striking and similar to their recordings in a pleasing way. Pushing the House of Blues’s sound system to its absolute limit, the crowd heard Tame Impala in surround sound in a way unusual to even the most popular groups– Parker’s incredible mixing and production skills allows the sound to travel from the left to the right and float across the audience in a wave of trippy catharsis. After several weeks of touring across the U.S. for Lonerism for the second time this calendar year (Boston got a treat of a show from the group at the Royale last fall), the House of Blues was Tame Impala’s final stop, and their good-natured Australian natures could not have been better placed on display. “We thank you so much for coming out,” smiled the shy Parker, happy to be eclipsed by the Big Brother-like display. “We’ll see you very soon!”

Part Beatles drug days, part lo-fi experimentation, Tame Impala puts on a hell of a show that blends vision and sound effortlessly in a way that amps everyone up with their unique electric vibe. A word of advice to those who still can’t get over the basslines– check out Parker’s incredible lyrics in Lonerism. Should it be legal for a killer song like “Elephant” to have lyrics reflecting on the U.S.’s loss of power? The sky is truly the limit with these guys, and it’s the highlight of anyone’s concert season to get to see it in person.

By Jamie Loftus

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