From the moment singer/guitarist Kevin Parker laid into the opening riff of “Solitude Is Bliss” straight through to the end of the night, it was just one hit after another. Tame Impala was in the house.
If you didn’t make it to the show and you’re the type of person whose first question is always “Oh did they play…?”—let me stop you right there. Yes, they played it.
The band was on stage for well over an hour, so they got around to playing pretty much every song you wanted to hear off of last year’s Lonerism and their first record, 2010’s InnerSpeaker. The band members don’t bother with anything in the way of having stage presence, aside from a giant video screen behind them showing random psychedelic patterns like some kind of screensaver on acid, but they had plenty of charm. After Parker told us that he “certainly didn’t expect anything like this” because the Fox was “one of the most beautiful venues we’ve seen in a long time,” the band ripped through standout Lonerism cut “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.” Then the frontman told the crowd: “That was the most lighters I’ve ever seen during that song.”
I don’t say they have no stage presence to knock them. They’re not just making psychedelic music, they’re making some of the most swirling and dense psychedelic music of any band going for that sound these days—and it’s a crowded field, to say the least. Normally music this trippy is what you call “head music,” not really the kind you thrash around to. I guess that’s why I wasn’t prepared for how much people were going to dance at a Tame Impala show. Then again, swirling and dense as it may be, Tame Impala’s music is also really damn catchy. Especially “Elephant”, which really got the crowd going.
Opener Jonathan Wilson plied a very similar trade as the band he was warming up for. Wilson is also mining the psychedelic sounds of the ’60s and ’70s, but whereas Tame Impala has more of a poppy, Beatles/Syd Barrett-Pink Floyd sound, Jonathan Wilson was a little more rootsy. By which I mean, there were times it was more jam band than psych. There were undeniable Allman Brothers overtones in some of the dual guitar work. More than one song could have been a Grateful Dead cover, except they weren’t. Their cover song was “Just For Love” by a different San Francisco psychedelic band from the ’60s, Quicksilver Messenger Service.