Nothing evokes ’60s and ’70s psychedelia quite like a light show. At a time when light shows have been reappropriated by the EDM scene, Tame Impala brought the visual phenomenon back to its roots at their show at The Fox Theater last week.
Hailing from Perth, Australia, Tame Impala is composed of three core members: Dom Simper, Jay Watson and Kevin Parker — whose lead vocals have been tiresomely compared to John Lennon’s. The band performed in front of an enormous screen that displayed a range of psychedelic lights and images, synchronized to match the sonic waves of each song. What initially resembled a Windows ’98 screensaver became a rather elemental visual accompaniment to the sonic enticement of Tame Impala’s live show.
As the show progressed, the screen’s images evolved to look closely like renderings of the cover art of the band’s first album, Innerspeaker. At other moments, the screen displayed a single fiery spot at the center that resembles a volcanic hotspot — a fitting representation of the show’s overall tone. Tame Impala’s performance was far from stagnant; rather, it was alluringly eruptive with moments of subtle placidity — only before aural explosions.
With a neo-psychedelic noise that draws on inspirations like the Rolling Stones, Tame Impala has been widely praised for creating a fresh musical persona that makes them innovative without being simply derivative. The hour-and-a-half long set was packed with a balance of songs off of Innerspeaker and their sophomore album, Lonerism. There was nothing about Tame Impala’s show that was repetitive or lulled; they managed to maintain structure and fluidity in their performance while exuding consistently untamed energy from one song to the next, transitioning with compelling lengthy interludes that wove the songs seamlessly together to form one cohesive narrative of a set list.
Their performance was prefaced by an opening act from Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Jonathan Wilson, whose sound leans a little more toward bluesy folk. Wilson’s lead-in successfully set the tone and helped the crowd in smoky, excited anticipation for the show’s main act.
Tame Impala opened their performance with a new song called “Led Zeppelin” and moved straight into “Solitude is Bliss.” One of the show’s highlights was “Be Above It,” an understated song full of whispers, rumblings and bursts that was made all the more memorable in a live performance. The band closed with a wildly captivating performance of “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control,” an absolute immaculate cap-off to their stimulating trip of a show.
Tame Impala’s entrancing quality was reflected in the crowd’s reception. There was moshing during the band’s performance of their popular and catchy single “Elephant.” And someone felt it appropriate to get on another’s shoulders — prompting many “this-is-not-Coachella” stares from other audience members. In fact, each song performed elicited a different response from the audience, who slow-clapped for “Apocalypse” and swayed lighters for “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.” At some point, a bra was thrown on stage for good measure. As cheesy as they may have been, these responses managed not to obstruct but enhance the downright pleasure of the show, generated by the band’s idiosyncratic, psychedelic splendor.
Contact Denise Lee at [email protected].