Live Review: Tame Impala @ Neumo’s 12/10
Review by Jason Kinnard | Last second impromptu photos provided by Shelly Corbett
Being raised on a steady diet of Beatles and Byrds albums growing up, it’s no wonder I was naturally drawn to a band like Tame Impala. This Australian band first hit my radar in a post I did over a year ago entitled: The Year Down Under and 16 Bands ready to take over 2009. Tame Impala was one of 4 bands we were listening to at the time, and although we may have been a year early, this band has literally exploded onto the scene with little to no warning. Their new album Innerspeaker wasn’t as much a shock to my system as it must have been for others, but there’s little doubt this will end up at the top of a lot of music critic’s lists. When I heard the show announced in Seattle, I immediately circled the date on my Calendar for what I hoped would be an epic show.
Flash forward to last Friday night (12/10) at Neumos. While I don’t typically enjoy “All Ages” as much as I used to (GET OFF MY LAWN!), I was actually more encouraged than frustrated by all the Under 21′ers in attendance for Tame Impala. In the day and age of instant-gratification singles and crappy mainstream radio pop hits, it’s refreshing to see so many young people listening to good music for a change. But first of all, I’d feel re-missed if I didn’t mention the surprising opening band of the night: Brainstorm. Sometimes I find these are the best discoveries of all; bands you have absolutely no knowledge of going into them. The Portland duo certainly did an impressive job filling in for the scheduled opener Stardeath and White Dwarf, with a minimal set-up of just drums and guitar, and both members filling in on keyboard and Tuba duties respectively. As a former percussionist, the stellar drumming was immediately evident to me (and everyone else in attendance), as was their ability to harmonize and produce such a rich and diverse sound with just two fellows. Hat’s off boys, really nice job! I’ll definitely explore more (Check them out HERE)
And then Aussie headliners Tame Impala.
Set off to the left of the stage with a full complement of pedals, keyboards, and laptops, Kevin Parker (vocals/guitar) was like a maestro commanding a psychedelic orchestra on-stage. Using an “O” Scope and a huge backdrop screen projection, Parker set-up each song not only sonically, but visually, which created an original and psychedelic effect. At one point I heard someone in the crowd yell “Wake up Seattle!” and I couldn’t have said it better myself, when this band got on it, they really got on it. Sure the band is young, but by the time they had reached their amazing cover of Massive Attack’s “Angel”, it was clear this band has set lofty heights for themselves. Only because I had spent so much time critically listening to the full-length was I able to point out some of the finer flaws of their Seattle performance, but when I think of the tightness and skill of the band, it’s minor picking really. While favorites like “Luicidity” certainly didn’t hit as I had hoped, their live variations of other songs like “Expectations” and “Solitude is Bliss” were fantastic and complex. They way they were able to build their sound, mix it all up, and then seemingly stop it on a dime? That takes skill I can’t even begin to explain to you in a few sentences. This was their very first Seattle performance (which we seem to eat up in this town), but I don’t presume it will be their last. As with their album, not an easy point of entry for everyone, but for many, this was a great introduction.
Now I’m going to sit down, reminisce about their show, put on some good headphones, and listen to Innerspeaker as it was intended to be listened to; loud and on vinyl…