Temples is a pop-psychedelic English band formed in 2012 by vocalist-guitarist James Bagshaw and keyboardist-bassist Thomas Walmsley. Bagshaw, recognizable not just for his tunes, but also for his iconic curly ‘do, had a new look going for him at Outside Lands — a curly quiff — and he smiled sweetly when fans complimented him. The band opened its set with its single “Certainty” before immediately launching into “Roman Godlike Man,” both tracks off the band’s 2017 album Volcano. The new album maintains the definitive Temples style — trippy distortion, punchy synth and emphatic bass riffs — while adding to the mix an almost-poppy energy.
After a cheer-filled pause, the band dove into its 2014 single, “Keep in the Dark,” off its first album, Sun Structures. While the band’s performance was relatively low-key, its music is energetic and electric — and live, the pure talent of the young musicians is even clearer. “Mystery of Pop” seemed to bridge the growth between the first and second albums — mixing dynamic synthesizer rings with a fast-paced beat and percussion, alongside Bagshaw’s immense vocal range. “How Would You Like to Go?” marked the middle of the band’s set with a near-ghostly energy and an operatic organ-tone synth.
In contrast to the first half of its set, Temples focused its second half on oldies-but-goodies — starting with “Mesmerize,” which foregrounded the wah-ed out guitar and a zealous drum sequence that defined Temples’ first album. When the band returned to Volcano momentarily for “Strange Or Be Forgotten,” it led into a jam-session interlude. In that moment, we were reminded that Temples’ wonderful weirdness is what gets its tunes stuck in your head and what makes its music stand out. The band’s magic lies in Bagshaw’s incomparable, high-ranging vocals and gorgeous twang, not to mention its eclectic use of distortion that never gets old.
The band is still young, but its first two albums — a few years apart — let us know that it won’t be forgotten. It followed “Strange Or Be Forgotten” with “A Question Isn’t Answered,” a slower almost-jazzy tune off Sun Structures that brought down the pace of the set to a space of warm tranquility.
Temples closed its set with “Shelter Song,” a relative classic for the few-year-old band that became a beach anthem after its release in 2013. Despite the peppy nature of their music, the musicians seemed relatively calm throughout their set and ended on a pleasantly relaxed energy. But Temples certainly knew the weight of performing on the same stage as the venerable Metallica — it dedicated “Mystery of Pop” to the legendary rock band.