Before the Flaming Lips, Tame Impala played at the Greek Theater on Tuesday night and, if they didn’t use any crazy Halloween outfits and tricks, they impressed the crowd that was already very big this early in the evening.
The Lips like them, they have even recently recorded one of their songs, the catchy and groovy ‘Elephant’ and they have toured with them in the past. Last time these Australians played in Los Angeles it was impossible to get a ticket, they sold out the El Rey two nights in a row and they seemed to have exploded on the music scene quite fast with only two albums and a few EPs, singles. I have a sort of casual connection with them, I like many of their songs, even love the very sweet and melodic ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ (a real ear-candy) and ‘Elephant’ of course, but I am not fan of everything on record. However, live, they were really good, they established themselves as masters of distortion and hypnosis, coating everything with a huge dose of psychedelia only reinforced by the visuals projected behind the stage. Of course this spectacle had nothing to do with the Flaming Lips’ bloody extravaganza, but the geometrical figures and the undulating lines made of candy-like colors constantly moving on the screen behind the band, were encouraging the weed smoking (and who knows what else?) already going on among the crowd of the Greek theater.
For a young band they already have developed an unique sound, and frontman and singer Kevin Parker cultivates the morose-detached tone translating less anger than isolation and ennui – their last and acclaimed album wasn’t called ‘Lonerism’ for a reason,… some have suggested John Lennon, but I couldn’t really hear it. They were inventive, often changing rhythm and direction, getting funky in the middle of this psychedelia, with songs which didn’t seem to know exactly where they were going, keeping the audience always interested. It was mostly slow music, inducing much more mass hypnosis than dance floor action, with climatic moments and occasional electronic weirdness, hypnotic glittery, as the sound was matching the outbursts of light. As I said I am no Tame Impala expert and I couldn’t see the set list, but I just know they played ‘Half Full Glass of Wine’, ‘Elephant’, ‘Be Above It’, ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ and ‘Apocalypse Dreams’, but also a few more songs.
They didn’t have any particular stage antics, they were more interested by performing their songs, extending them, distorting them, giving them more texture and volume, while sending a big Pink Floyd-meets-psychedelic-era-Beatles-meets-the-Flaming-Lips vibe in the sky above the Greek theater… I even thought there was a bit of Panda bear in all this, but since Panda bear’s last album ‘Tomboy’ was abundantly referred to Brian Wilson, we are back to the classics. If they did anything, they proved they were a damn good rock’ n’ roll band, managing to bring all these classic names in mind while sounding modern.
Kevin Parker didn’t say much during their long set – I even think they went a bit over their time – just thanking the crowd and expressing his satisfaction to be playing in this ‘beautiful place’,… beautiful and really cold place for California. But that must have been just me because these Australians were just wearing t-shirts, some long hair in their face, standing barefoot on stage, doing an interesting thing for their image, keeping things a little wild, a little fearless and even a bit mysterious. I was just regretting not being closer to the stage to dive more into their sound. Now if the Flaming Lips would have joined them on stage for ‘Elephant’ for example, the show would have been even better! It didn’t happen but you’d kind of expect it since both bands belong to the same sonic universe. Tame Impala’s set did sound like a ferocious pill of ecstasy soaked in reverb, distorted synth and fuzzy guitars, or rather they sounded like a modern twist on music the Lips probably grew up listening to.
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