Tame Impala Stays True

November 19th, 2010

Tame Impala – The Bowery Ballroom – November 18, 2010

(Photo: Jared Levy)

(Photo: Jared Levy)

As a sold-out crowd packed into The Bowery Ballroom last night, four slender young people quietly took the stage. If they were trying to buy beer, you would have carded them. But on this night, the age and modest presence of Tame Impala’s members only set to underscore the impressive lineage of the band’s influences and sound. Their debut album, Innerspeaker, is comprised of ’60s-style psychedelic rock recently revived by bands like Dungen and Oh No Ono. Described by lead guitarist and vocalist Kevin Parker as “a steady flowing psychedelic groove-rock band that emphasizes dream-like melody,” Tame Impala crafts songs that tap into the spirit of the Beatles circa Sgt. Pepper’s and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

At first the timid bunch, looking like the cast of Dazed and Confused, moved quickly through album opener “It’s Not Meant to Be” and their first single, “Solitude Is Bliss.” Be it jet lag or jitters, the band looked uneasy at the beginning of their set. However, Parker soon picked up the energy with his effected guitar solos and trance-inducing vocals, and by the time the group got to “Lucidity” and “Expectation,” he had unassumingly lost his voice, which did little to detract from the vocal melodies and perhaps led to the eventual emphasis on instrumentals.

During these extended breakdowns, bassist Nick Allbrook and drummer Jay Watson created a pulsating, hypnotic rhythm section that fueled their psychedelic jams. This, matched with a frantic visualizer projected on the screen behind the band, aimed to evoke the mind-altering state associated with their music’s tradition. And, in the moments where all four members locked into a steady groove, they seemed truest to themselves and their sound. Eventually, even their most stoic member, guitarist Dominic Simper, loosened up and smiled. —Jared Levy

(Tonight’s Tame Impala show at The Bowery Ballroom is sold out.)