Tame Impala Brings Sonic Magic to NYC Terminal 5

Photo: Chris Becker

Photo: Chris Becker

Tame Impala played their biggest night in New York City yet, finding themselves headlining Terminal 5, and selling it out with ease. The venue was as packed as can be, leaving dozens of disappointed fans outside the venue hunting for fair priced tickets.

Kicking off their new tour, the Kevin Parker led crew sounded just as strong as they did at Webster Hall last November.

The band Tame Impala describes its music as “psychedelic hypno-groove melodic rock.” It certainly went down well with the glassy-eyed crowd and telltale aroma that filled Terminal 5 on Feb. 19.

The four Australians and one Frenchman were kicking off their 2013 North American tour. A screen above them showed swirly lines reminiscent of a Spirograph. On the stage floor awaiting the bare feet of lead guitarist Kevin Parker sat an array of effects pedals.

Parker deployed the spacey notes opening “Apocalypse Dreams” and a voice steeped in reverb, backed by a tight rhythm, a steady bass line from Nick Allbrook and solid keyboards. The tune swelled into a wall of sound before a brief pause at its climax — and then the band jumped back in as Parker fell to his knees for jamming. The trippy and fluid number left the crowd wrapped in the band’s power.

Parker quickly moved into “Solitude Is Bliss,” a standout number from the 2010 debut record, “Innerspeaker.” Parker and guitarist Dominic Simper let their instruments playfully weave around each other as keyboardist Jay Watson kept the pulse and flailed his hair about in the throes of sonic possession.

Coming on the scene a few years back, the youthful group, whose founding four members hail from Perth, Australia, made a splash with its neo-psychedelic pop sound. Last year’s highly and rightfully touted sophomore album, “Lonerism,” exposed them to the masses. It also happened to be one of my favorite albums of the year.

Heavy Keys

The record builds upon their fondness for the music of the 1960s and heavy doses of keys. The band altered its lineup by moving Watson from drums to keyboards and adding drummer Julien Barbagallo, the Frenchman.

At Terminal 5, the new record’s “Endors Toi” had both Simper and Watson on keys before Simper slipped back to his guitar, and both he and Parker chopped away until Watson and Barbagallo took over with a break-beat remix-style jam that moved the crowd back and forth — like a puppeteer maneuvering his little friends.

On “Elephant,” a hard-rocking number, the group matched the recording’s jagged guitar riffs, then moved into an avant- garde jazzy jam, worked back into the main rhythm and suddenly ended. The rug was playfully pulled out.

“Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” featured Parker’s spot- on John Lennon voice carrying a late-’60s easy-flowing Beatles- like ditty. The short tune drew some of the biggest cheers.

Stretching Out

The set-closing “Half Full Glass of Wine” offered the guys a canvas to stretch out. As Barbagallo tapped cymbals, Parker, Simper, and Watson all took to the guitars. Deep and dark chords were followed by Parker’s wobbly vocal and then a call-and-response jam as the quintet rocked with heads down. For 10 minutes the crowd bounced along with the music.

The encore was a live debut of “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control” from “Lonerism.” Keys blossomed and the beat was big. Parker played in unison with the projectors’ looped lines, while Watson slowly worked the piano into a gentle landing for us all.

Openers The Growl got things going with a very soulful Black Keys type psych-gararge rock that got the rumbles going. It was their first show in the USA ever.

Tame Impala continue their North America tour through March and will be returning to the U.S. for a few dates in spring, including some of the premiere music festivals: Coachella, Sasquatch and Bonnaroo.

See galleries of both Tame Impala & The Growl HERE.

SETLIST – Statistics for songs


TAME IMPALA PERFORM “It is not Meant to be”