by The Insomniac
“Go to sleep, you’ll be fine. Go to sleep, you’ll be fine. Go to sleep, you’ll be fine…” repeated Kevin Parker as he closed out a lengthened, slower version of Endors Toi to assure the audience it was OK to let the hypnosis of Tame Impala’s performance take over.
It was an unusually warm night for November in the Upper West Side as fans of the Aussie psych-rockers gathered to attend Tame Impala’s second sold out performance in New York before they take their performance to LA. As a band that pays so much homage to 60’s psychedelica while at the same time incorporating their own signature, vibrant grooves, the crowd storming into the theatre consisted of factions of people from all walks of life, from the older gray-hair, nostalgic for a sound that hasn’t resurfaced properly in decades, to the young, new-age Brooklyn hippie with purple hair and too many piercings looking for a solid jam.
While writing their second album, Lonerism, front man Kevin Parker, who writes and records the majority of the music, stated that he wanted to take a new direction and define a sound that would wash over the listener, as opposed to melodies that “beam” at the listener which was how described the sound of their debut LP, Innerspeaker. This was certainly achieved last night in NY as the attention of the audience was immediately arrested with Tame’s ocean of euphoric jams, warped vocals, and mind-melting visuals. The band’s screen backdrop showed warped tunnels and colors that danced and exploded according to Parker’s hand movements up and down his Rickenbacker 335 Jetglo, seemingly able to paint a vibrating whirlpool of oscillations without any effort at all. Being hypnotized for this set was no longer an option – Tame Impala got inside your head and made you feel every beat, taste every riff.
Being put under this trance made it seem like the divisions in their setlist dissolved, making it hard to really tell when one song ended and one began – without warning at one moment while playing an old uptempo headbanger from 2008, Half Full Glass of Wine, Parker broke into a dreamlike tangent with soft, repetitive, and ever amplifying melodies long enough for you to forget which song they were even playing, that is if you were able to remember where you were anymore.
Their sound, so summery, bright, and shimmering on the surface, is actually an odd juxtaposition with the meaning behind Parker’s poetry of isolation. Seeing a grand hall of hundreds of smiling, ecstatic people surrounded by friends singing “Why won’t they talk to me?” seemed a bit odd for the half-second I snapped out of my trance to be self-conscious enough to realize what I was screaming. Parker’s battle between celebrating the bliss of one’s psyche and the feeling of disconnect that comes with spending too much time in that deep headspace continues to be the driving force behind the songwriting.
Like any good psychedelica, Tame Impala’s sound is euphoric but unmistakably dark between the lines, and I think it’s this mysterious dance of yin and yang that gives birth to the full harmony that billows from their performance. You’ll feel happy, melancholy, scared even, but you’ll be thanking them for the trance and asking when you’ll get another chance to mainline pure gold through your veins.
Check out Tame Impala’s music video for Mind Mischief below: