Tame Impala, Yuck, Yawn @ The Paradise (Boston), Thursday, April 28, 2011
In the brief time that Tame Impala's made their particular brand of psychedelia available from the far reaches of the Western Australian shore, they've managed to worm their way into the American collective in a pretty convincing manner. Getting Pitchfork's tap of the scepter on their shoulder via their inclusion on the site's "Best of 2010" list is certainly a way to snap heads to attention, but they've also been busy on the road to build a fanbase the traditional way. Tonight would be their second headlining appearance at The Paradise, just a few months from the last date and fresh off their well-received set at Coachella. The crowd was a lot younger than I'd anticipated (for whatever reason, guitar-based psychedelic music seems to be more of a middle-aged crowd pleaser), and with that comes a bit more energy. The band certainly noticed and appreciated it, and when they thanked Boston they were confused by the sudden outbreak of a "Yankees Suck" chant; I'm sure that Passion Pit would be giving thousand yard stares if they played Perth and were met with a "South Melbourne sucks!" chant.
Tame Impala is powered mainly by Kevin Parker's slightly nasal vocals, and the soaring, driving fuzzed-out bliss that the band effortlessly creates. One listen to the gliding melody of "Alter Ego" and you'll be swept away with the rapturous sound, limbs floating about and lost in the hazy feel of the moment. The other side of their sound is a harder, quasi-Blue Cheer sound that is apparent on songs like "Desire Be, Desire Go" and most notably "Half Full Glass of Wine," which they closed with, and the songs got more and more stretched out as they reached the end of the show. The transition was their scintillating cover of Massive Attack's "Angel," and the rest of the set really took on a new life. Previously, they'd announced that the artifice of an encore was something they wouldn't be doing, and it was a great decision to preserve the flow of the night. At times they reminded me of Dungen a bit, albeit with English-sung lyrics and less focus on keyboard-driven melodies, but the elastic rhythm section and full wall of sound for a four piece stuck with me. It'll be interesting to see the band's development with the next record.
Yuck has joined on as support for this tour, and the groundswell of word-of-mouth hype didn't smother their performance. In fact, they acquitted themselves quite well, and showed a poppier side that I'd not really picked up on from the record. The signifier of Dinosaur Jr has been a popular label applied, but there was a very deep streak of Teenage Fan Club present, and the lead track "Get Away" brought me back to the post-Nirvana feeding frenzy days of bands like St. Johnny. Convincing set all around, with leader Daniel Blumberg looking like he'd been cloned from the '65 UK tour of Dylan. Yuck showed a strong grounding in solid songwriting, something that a lot bands that ride even a tiny bit of the hype machine fail to deliver. Keep an eye on them. Openers Yawn have chosen a rather unfortunate name, one that opens them to all sorts of snarky cross-fire. Their cards showed a studied debt to Animal Collective and Vampire Weekend, and it was a sobering thought to think that there's already a number of bands influenced thusly. I can't say that this development excites me.