Words by Peter Lillis. Photos by Michael Young
Tame Impala is the future.
Yeah, their vibes and space and whoa-inducing effects reference the Golden Age of psychedelic rock, not to mention their looks bordering on Stillwater-levels of cheese. Though, their tour-closing show at Echostage last Saturday didn’t feel retro, instead they presented a future where rock music can again be as impactful and ‘trippy’ as the forever-growing EDM world. Though, I suppose pining for a time where rock music makes money is antiquated too. Whatever, you get what I mean.
As the muffled bass and drum intro of “Let It Happen” opened the show, puffs of smoke screened their now-famous lightshow, and I could have sworn we were lifted to the farm at Bonnaroo. Though Echostage gets a bad rap, the at-times muddied sound didn’t detract from the overall experience, almost like the over-driven bass and keys kept the kaleidoscope spinning in my head and on the wall. The crowd danced and raved and even shot up devil horns, though none of their songs are really metal. Not surprising people mixed up that gesture’s meaning, we live in a world where The Decemberists had a #1 selling record not that long ago.
Tame Impala pulled out songs from across their career. While jams off Lonerism were indeed the highlights (namely “Why Don’t They Talk To Me” and “Apocalypse Dreams”; though “Be Above It” is one of my favorites, the drums were way too low in the mix to trump the recorded version’s essence), songs off their upcoming record Currents (the aforementioned “Let It Happen” warmed up the crowd, but the loudest response was to another recent single, “Cause I’m A Man”) were well represented and received, or so I gathered from the woo!-ing girls on shoulders scattered through the space. By marrying the contemporary rave experience – lights, drugs, noise, etc. – and groovy-and-spacey-as-hell live instrumentation, Tame Impala is able to transcend the limitation of both styles of performance. And boy did we transcend.
It was an experience it seemed everybody was stoked to have, and to share together. That doesn’t really happen at major rock shows anymore. But I’m done looking backward, that doesn’t get us anywhere. I have faith that Tame Impala is going to be the band to boldly go where no one has gone before. That’s a Star Trek reference, if you missed it.