Show Review: Tame Impala @ Union Transfer 11/8
Tame Impala was greeted with nothing but love Thursday night at Union Transfer. Chimneys of smoke floated from the packed crowd on the floor as a crest of exotic guitar and synth tones began to roll from the stage.
As they opened with “Be Above It,” the first track to their new album, Lonerism, I was immediately impressed with how dead-on Kevin Parker’s vocals were. Though doused in reverb and delay, his voice was indisputably on pitch – and bodied at that.
Even more impressive was Julien Barbagallo’s drum work. The band definitely owes their performance’s tightness to his pounding but tasteful accents. At one point, Barbagallo took a drum solo—not a display of speed, but rather a rise, decline and returning rise of felt-out pulsations. This was probably the loudest the crowd screamed all night.
Taking all of this in, I couldn’t help but reflect poorly on their recordings because what I’ve been listening to out of my speakers this past month did no justice for what I heard Thursday. The recordings—not at all poor in quality, but noticeably filled in more by reverb than body—suggested nothing of the powerful ambiance and cleanness of their live sound. Maybe this quality of recording is intentional: a stylistic opting among neopsychedelic bands for a vintage-sounding product. However, I don’t think I was the only one more moved by what I heard live.
I thought it was funny the more I thought about it: we’ve all become so used to music that only sounds good recorded. For better or for worse, we’re becoming more and more content with watching someone take to the stage only to press play on a laptop. With that, in this new age of Mac Books and sampler stations, the five dudes of Tame Impala justify their embrace of a contemporary movement with a stunning live performance.
Could this be a taste of the golden years of music that our parents told us we missed out on? Perhaps. There’s definitely something a lot more genuine about them than other neopsychedelic acts like MGMT who sell a gimmick along with their sound. It’d be a shame for Tame Impala to fall into this marketing trap. I didn’t get that feeling watching them play in front of a Pink Floyd laser light show/Windows ’99 screen saver sequence on the projector screen behind them, but let’s leave it there.
If Tame Impala still doesn’t manage to evade the gimmicky side of today’s neopsychedelic movement, they are, at the very least, a fresh approach to what is perhaps an inevitably gimmicky style in the year 2012. Perhaps there’s still room in the style to make something new. Or it could be that these Australians have some different inspiration to feed off of on the other side of the planet. Either way, it’s nice to have a band that knows how to put on a tight performance to some great songs.
To listen to Tame Impala and check up on tour dates, visit their website here.