Tag Archives: Jay Watson


Tame Impala Lay It Down on Broadway

November 11th, 2014

Tame Impala – Beacon Theatre – November 10, 2014

SwFNceWCEg-39M-6eaLmGM1RUUQeEzLOdaOmq8EzDGMWhat is it they say about Broadway, something about how there’s always magic in the air? Australian rockers Tame Impala made the move uptown this week to the Beacon Theatre, playing the second of two-sold out shows last night and there was plenty of magic in the air as the five-piece proved that they’re a perfect fit for a show right there on Broadway. After a mesmerizing set of instrumental guitar music from Delicate Steve, the Perth quintet took the stage as the electronic drums of “Be Above It” set the tone, green oscilloscope lights on the backdrop twinkling in time to the beat. As Kevin Parker’s zone-out vocals echoed, the sights and sounds grew more chaotic, the band arching orbital sounds through the venue.

The tone firmly set, the rest of the show was a majestic 80-minute psychedelic rock–and-lights masterpiece: immersive and transforming. On a day when many in the music world were discussing a new Pink Floyd release, on songs like “Solitude Is Bliss,” Tame Impala felt like the real thing at their peak, mixing prog and psych, groove and full-throated rock outs while every color of the rainbow zapped through the room in time to the music. In working through most of their 2012 LP, Lonerism, they showed there’s plenty of life in slow, otherworldly groovers like “Why Won’t They Talk to Me?” and big time arena-rock bliss in “Elephant.” There was one moment during “Endors Toi” when the group seemed to make science, ’70s prog rock and the slow clap seem cool again in one single passage, the crowd holding the beat, the band tripping hallucinogenic in synth and guitars and the backdrop going full on mathematical. Keeping with the theme, in the intro to “Mind Mischief,” Parker turned to face the screen behind him as it buzzed into shapes following his distorted guitar solo, like he was painting psychedelic patterns with his music, science meets art in Technicolor.

Of course, there were plenty of bits of esoteric instrumentals and extended jams throughout the performance, but they felt earned, part of the journey and not the destination itself. The growing entropy of the show met its end with the set-closing “Apocalypse Dreams,” the oscilloscope imagery a Crayola box of squiggles seeming to rush out at the geeked audience while the band built to a final climax. With a crowd-pleasing, sing-along encore of “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” it appeared that what they say about Broadway, at least as far as Tame Impala are concerned, is true after all. —A. Stein

(Delicate Steve play Mercury Lounge on 11/20.)


Pond Evoke the Past While Providing a Glimpse at the Future

October 16th, 2014

Pond – The Bowery Ballroom – October 15, 2014

61-atxl1Having never been there, I imagine Australia to be like a bizarro northern hemisphere— perspective is flipped, up is down, the earth spinning in the other direction. For all I know, it’s possible the arrow of time is pointing in the other direction, so a band like Pond isn’t influenced by past greats, but is somehow instead influencing classic rock’s future past. As they tore through their late set last night at The Bowery Ballroom, the Perth quintet evoked the sounds of prog and psych rock—bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Black Sabbath and even David Bowie—but made these sounds their own from an alternate universe where those bands don’t even exist yet. Maybe that doesn’t make too much sense, but these are the kinds of things that run through your head when your body and brain are being jostled around by Pond’s live set.

Things got to that place quickly, particularly with “Giant Tortoise,” off last year’s Hobo Rocket, early in the set. With pixilated stripes of primary colors jiggling on the screen behind them, Pond deftly switched gears, high then low then back to high again, propelled by Jay Watson’s superlative drumming. The guys in the band didn’t seem to take themselves too seriously at all. Guitarist and lead singer Nick Allbrook wore a dress more appropriate for a picnic date and a Justin Bieber sweatshirt that only muddled the ensemble, plus he went on a long ad-libbed bit in the middle of “Fantastic Explosion of Time” that touched on a number of topics, including the taste du jour, pumpkin spice.

The music, though, twisted expertly through multisectioned compositions, heavy two-guitar rock-outs and more prog-y interludes. The crowd pulsed with each shift and crescendo, bouncing and bumping around the Ballroom floor. “Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind” was a brilliant Pink Floyd–as-disco jam from their back catalog, while “Xanman” was pure Sabbath fist-pumping energy. As the music pulled in different directions, Pond remained tight, largely on the strength of Watson’s intense playing and focus. The set climaxed with “You Broke My Cool,” off their 2012 album, Beard, Wives, Denim, a dense double helix of psych and funk, and the closing “Midnight Mass (At the Market Street Payphone).” That last tune was pure “save the best for last,” with a long spaced-out bridge zapped with a dreamy slide-guitar riff from Joseph Ryan. Evocative and futuristic all at once, which describes Pond through and through. —A. Stein

(Pond play Rough Trade NYC on Saturday.)


Tame Impala Take Sold-Out Crowd on Unpredictable Trip

February 20th, 2013

Tame Impala – Terminal 5 – February 19, 2013

Of all the considerable rock-band exports from Australia, it appears that Perth’s Tame Impala will fall much closer to AC/DC on the spectrum of greatness rather than, say, Jet. Having released two critically acclaimed albums, the band kicked off a North American tour to celebrate, starting off things last night with a sold-out show at Terminal 5. The set was as psychedelic, dreamy, fuzzy and trippy as one would expect, although the band had some tricks up their sleeves to make sure some elements remained unpredictable.

“Apocalypse Dreams,” the night’s first song, was played with a completely false ending: Following applause and a drawn-out pause from the band, the quintet surprised everyone by jumping back into an extended jam on the outro. They employed this trick again during “Elephant,” but instead of jumping back in after the applause for a lengthy guitar jam, they played just two short measures before suddenly concluding the tune. It’s like Tame Impala knew when their songs’ momentum was all but unstoppable, so they’d tease the audience by stopping—knowing full well the crowd couldn’t wait for it to continue.

For all the guitar effects Tame Impala are known for, there is impressively little difference in sound between the band in studio and live, in part thanks to Kevin Parker’s impressive barefoot dexterity. Taking the term shoegaze to a whole new level, the frontman adjusted knobs and settings on a massive guitar-pedal board using just his bare toes (sometimes even in the middle of a riff). The band returned for their encore to play “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control” live for the first time ever. And you won’t find a more perfect song title with which to end a show. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com


Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Tame Impala on 2/19

February 12th, 2013


Kevin Parker’s psychedelic quintet, Tame Impala, are still touring behind the fantastic Lonerism album, which brings them to Terminal 5 next Tuesday. And like most of the shows on their tour, this, too, is sold out. But you may be in luck because The House List is giving away two tickets. Want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Tame Impala, 2/19) and a brief message explaining the virtues of psychedelic rock and why you deserve to see these Aussie rockers. Eddie Bruiser, a big Tame Impala fan, will notify the winner by next Tuesday. Good luck.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Your Message

Please leave this field empty.


A Band of the Moment

November 12th, 2012

Tame Impala – Webster Hall – November 13, 2012

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a struggle for many in the New York City region, so by the time this past weekend rolled around, pretty much everyone was having a “Calgon, take me away!” moment. And as if on cue, Tame Impala had arrived for two sold-out shows, wrapping up Saturday night at a smoke-filled Webster Hall, where they proved to be the perfect band to transport an audience away from reality.

Working heavily on material from their acclaimed new album, Lonerism, it didn’t really seem to matter which tune Tame Impala played. A guitar-as-pyschedelic-lute number was a magic-carpet ride to a mythical Arabia; a synth-and-theramin-driven one a Narnian wardrobe; a torrent of off-meter drumming a tornado to Oz; buzzing bass notes laced a time-traveling DeLorean; two guitars crashed together to bring the crowd to Platform 9¾; and midway through the set, a sublime version of “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” had otherworldly vocals and keyboards tugging the audience en masse down the rabbit hole to Wonderland. All the while the screens behind the band pulsed with hallucinogenic shapes and colors. This was a band of the moment, working at the height of its powers.

From there, it was through the looking glass with glorious extended instrumental sections punctuating the second half of the set, time stretching like taffy under the power of the music. The unique psychedelia of Tame Impala’s sound brought a surprising amount of groove for the crowd to latch onto, making sure that both mind and body were under its sway. Even barefooted frontman Kevin Parker wasn’t immune to the gravity his music generated—gyrating and lying down, entranced, onstage late in the show. The encore was a single piece that seemed to wrap up the main themes of the night, with sonar-pinging guitar making way for a long, enhanced jam with multiple ideas and an ecstatic building climax that threatened to unmoor the club completely from reality. For better or worse, though, the heels of the ruby slippers tapped, the smoke cleared and the show was over. Reality beckoned. —A. Stein