“I’m sorry guys, I woke up and my voice sounded like… this,” croaked Kevin Parker, lead force for the Australian psych-rock outfit Tame Impala, last night at The Music Hall of Williamsburg. “We sound more like Ted Nugent Impala.” But he needn’t have apologized; except for a few of the high notes on “It Is Not Meant to Be” and some froggy moments during “Alter Ego”, Parker sounded exactly like he does on record– like someone trapped John Lennon’s vocal take from “A Day in the Life” in a jar and taught it to sing new songs.
In fact, the entire Tame Impala live experience is eerily close to the Tame Impala record experience. They are a powerful, flexible live unit, but even rumbling at full “Manic Depression” lilt, they sound pleasantly drowsy: the guitar fuzz is thick but underwater-sounding, like someone draped a horse blanket over the amp. Just like on Innerspeaker, all of the music– the wailing, the ghostly vocals, the glazed “Communication Breakdown” guitar attack, the organ– seemed to be pouring out in one warm thin drizzle from a transistor radio. The appropriate Winamp visualizer squiggled on the wall behind them. They looked like Stillwater. Failing to get stoned before the show suddenly felt like a serious oversight.
Across the board, it was a “whoa, dude” kind of night: Before Impala, Brooklyn’s Young Magic blew my mind slightly, sounding twice as singular and intense live than on record. The music was loose and free-form, but the sound was so loud and tar-thick that I felt it in my throat. Behind them, jarring film clips– a near-naked woman snake-charming a snake, a woman swinging from a rope hanging from the side of a building– added to the disorientation.
So by the time Tame Impala got to their third or fourth eye-dilating, throbbing boogie-rock vamp, marijuana felt superfluous. The band makes stoner-friendly music, for sure, but there’s also something cough syrup-y about it– the glassy mix of low-end dirty riffs and sky-scraping clean leads in the guitars have a pinwheels-for-eyes effect. (A kid behind me whose pupils resembled the visualizer on the wall went backward, arms straight, onto the floor, and had to be removed by security like a bag of laundry.)
In this context, the material from their upcoming Lonerism was rougher, coarser, and groovier. Their new jam “Elephant” swung hard, revealing its peacocking “Jeepster” heart. Up to that point, everyone had been nodding their head in delirious, languid unison. But the minute the “Elephant” riff broke out, a pack of girls near me snapped out of their stupor and began dancing, hard.
Produced & Directed by:
3D Compositing & Animation by:
Michael Garber & Stephen McNally
Engineered & Mixed by: