Tame Impala: Half Glass Full of Wine

Perth fivepiece fogs up a sold-out Stubb’s

Apocalyptic Dream: Tame Impala at Stubb’s, 2.26.13
Apocalyptic Dream: Tame Impala at Stubb’s, 2.26.13 (by John Anderson)

Australia’s Tame Impala has had a hell of a year. The psychedelic sludge-rock of October’s Lonerism bounded over the sophomore slump onto year-end Top 10 lists like an Olympic hurdler. No surprise, then, that the quintet’s U.S. tour has maxed venues across the country, including last night’s Stubb’s sell-out.

Tame Impala looks and sounds like a young touring band. Leader Kevin Parker performs as if it’s a garage practice rather than for a packed house – nonchalant, uncommanding. The usually snappy bass smears together, the guitar solos wind on for uncomfortable stretches, and the oozing jumble of sound swallows Parker’s faint tenor whole.

It sounded eerily like a Tame Impala demo, unpolished and still searching for that final missing link.

The fog cast by the set seemed to swallow everyone, in fact – including the band. As if directing some grand, simplistic dance, Parker and company shook unkempt manes side to side, lost in their own sound. I can’t have been the only THC-free attendee, but I still felt a twinge of shame when I discovered I’d been doing the same stoner shuffle as everyone else: head down and wagging side-to-side, engulfed by Technicolor guitar.

The persistent, inescapable beat of “Elephant” offered brief respite from the haze, snapping everyone’s attention from some third-eye past to the present. First album favorite “Solitude is Bliss” rode these two extremes, dripping honey over guitar hooks and never getting too blurred. The real problems came with the drone between the two points.

“Not Meant to Be,” “Endors Toi,” and even the punchy “Apocalyptic Dream” melted into a lump of five-minute fuzz, made more numbing by the Windows Media Player-esque screen saver behind the band. What Tame Impala does so flawlessly on its LPs felt like watching a lava lamp live when the band launched into “Half Glass Full of Wine.” Home under the headphones with either Lonerism or its even sharper predecessor Innerspeaker felt more and more like a better alternative to Tame Impala’s 90-minute set.

Maybe I just should’ve smoked some weed.

More Tame Impala
ACL Review: Tame Impala
Tame Impala
“Mind Mischief” for “Apocalypse Dreams” from Down Under

Kahron Spearman, Oct. 3, 2015

Levitation Live Shot: Tame Impala
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A mud-sodden crowd soaks in catchy pop and jammy breakdowns

Neph Basedow, May 9, 2015

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Tame Impala, Kevin Parker, Lonerism, Innerspeaker

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