The room darkens, and six musicians slowly walk onto the stage. The crowd cheers as they hear an echoing “hello,” followed by a buildup of feedback. Suddenly the beat of “Be Above It” drops, and Tame Impala begins a show that no one in the crowd will ever forget.
Some bands stick to their album completely when they perform, and some pride themselves in creating a completely different live experience. Some have powerful light shows or wild stage presences to accompany their music. Tame Impala is not one of these bands, and their show was all the better for it. With only a standard mood lighting and a green laser projected onto a white screen behind them, they focused their whole show on the music itself, which never ceased to thrill. The way that they set up their show kept everyone in the audience on their toes, never knowing what to expect next. Though they played through many of the songs off their two albums, they often added in incredibly inventive splashes of color here and there into the familiar songs. When they played “Elephant,” the drum fill at the end turned into an avant-garde free jazz solo with the drummer and lead guitarist, which moved its way into a dub-style beat, which evolved into an all out drum solo which led back into the final “yeah” and guitar riff that ends the song. The third song of their set was an unrecognizable instrumental, that appears to have only been written for this tour, and it was an incredible piece filled with Tame Impala’s usual floating chords and catchy guitar riffs. When they played “Desire Be Desire Go,” they took the whole middle section of the song in a completely different direction, basically adding parts to the song that did not exist on the album. All in all, they provided a perfect combination of album familiarity and live creativity.
And just to top it all of, they ended with one of the most brilliant encore sets I personally have ever seen. They took the song “Half Full Glass Of Wine”, which is in on their self titled EP (only available in Australia, another version of the song, called “H.f.g.w (Canyons Drunken Rage),” appears on the American Tame Impala EP), and stretched it from 4:26, to about 15-20 minutes. Watching them perform it felt like watching Pink Floyd take the main idea of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and expanding it into two incredibly complex songs. After they played the first two verses of the song, they boiled it down to its main bass riff, and slowly built up the complexity by subtly adding more guitar and synth tones, and adding more and more energy to the beat. Finally it escalated back into the original theme, from which they took the song to a new bridge, and then ended with a loud smash of the final chord. All in all, it was an incredibly impressive performance and I hope to see them again back in Philadelphia soon.
Be Above It
Solitude is Bliss
It Is Not Meant To Be
Music To Walk Home By
Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind
Desire Be Desire Go
Half Full Glass Of Wine
Isaac Silber; originally published November 15, 2012.