Concerts Concerts Tame Impala, A Trip Worth Taking

Tame Impala, A Trip Worth Taking

Tame Impala at The Phoenix
Tame Impala
The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto, ON
November 12th, 2012

Review by: Katie Christensen
Photos by: Lisa Kruchak


With a relatively small repertoire, I knew the performance at The Pheonix would take the crowd on a full out Tame Impala psych rock trip.

Tame Impala

As it turned out, we ended up hearing every song from Innerspeaker and Lonerism minus a few, which was lucky because, if you listen to any Tame Impala singles on their own, separate from their two hugely expansive full-length albums, you’re not doing yourself or the music much justice. Their albums are not merely a collection of songs, but a cohesive compilation that take you on a journey where you can easily get lost in the heady hallucinogenic expanse.

Starting with “Be Above It” which happens to be the bubbling rhythmic track that begins Lonerism released by Modular Recordings in October, Jay Watson (drums, keys, guitar) almost subliminally whispered the title as a barreling drum beat alongside fuzzed guitars, otherworldly synths and Kevin Parkers (vocals, guitar) effortless echo. The stage set up was very minimal with a single backdrop with what looked like the Windows 95 figure’s screensaver projected onto it. The neon morphing shapes were hypnotizing then, and they still are now.

When writing Lonerism, Parker was free of former musical constraints, although he placed on himself many of the rules he abided by when creating Innerspeaker. This time around, Parker was more free to experiment with various influences, creating more inventive melodies than ever before. Out of this autonomy grew a fascination and obsession with cheesy pop melodies and chord progressions. In my opinion, the next song “Solitude is Bliss” is the “poppiest” song in their collection and happens to be from the first record. I think this fixation with songs enrobed in a candy-coated shell started earlier then Parker likes to admit.

Innerspeaker’s album opener “It’s Not Meant To Be” came next, as glorious green illuminated clouds wafted from the stage to co-mingle with the crowds’ puffs of smoke, also of the green variety. Carrying on with the ‘hazy’ vibe slow burn instrumental-heavy “Endors Toi” made the crowd sway as our ears were treated to the aural pleasures that lurk in the hidden corner of that song. Followed by “Music to Walk Home By” and the first official single off sophomore LP and instant earworm “Elephant”. The classic rock influence is palpable in this song and when played live opened up to an extended jam session full of unexpected syncopations and rhythmic changes. Parker’s floating Lennon-esque vocals were showcased in the next single “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” which features a laconic chorus and gentle organ harmonies.

By now, The Phoenix wasn’t only thick with smoke but hot and muggy. A barefoot Parker even noted that it’s the hottest they have been while in North America, yet these guys are from Australia. Unfortunately, that was the only banter that was audible - chalk it up to bad acoustics and a thick accent. ­­The band soldiered on despite the unyielding heat, performing head-nodding “Lucidity”, “Mind Mischief”, “Make Up Your Mind” and “Desires be Desires Go”, allowing us to be enveloped in the luxurious diversity of tactile vibrations and sweeping descants. They ended the evening with my favorite song off the latest album “Apocalypse Dream” which has co-producer David Fridmann's (Flaming Lips collaborator) name all over it. The knock out heavy guitar overdubs and intergalactic synths that unravel into the ether, however, is classic Parker/Tame Impala.

After a brief exit, the boys joined us once more for an encore playing the song that started it all for them, “Half Glass Full of Wine”. This face-melter was the perfect way to end our journey. Next time Tame Impala comes to town, pack an overnight bag, because it’s a trip worth taking.

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