Tame Impala, prey to play

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Tame Impala at Metropolis. Photos by Susan Moss

Hippie rock, dream pop, psychedelic soup, shoegaze, prog, grunge, glam — Tame Impala is all that. There’s always at least a little luck and business manoeuvring behind a band’s ascent, but this Australian group couldn’t have gotten to where they are without that big-tent sound. Getting a cast of thousands together on a Monday night, selling out the Corona and then Metropolis when the show was moved downtown, drawing old men and young girls and at least 1,000 bearded bros, is a sweet feat for a band on their second record, especially one from the other side of the globe.

When Kevin Parker and co. emerged, the neo-trippy visuals rippling on the screen behind them turned from blue to green, and at least a dozen people down front took that as a signal to light up. The secondhand smoke lent extra ambiance to the room, visually if not by way of our craniums, and green was definitely the way to go — it was that or $6 beers or half-digested psychedelics (which would’ve played well) or sketchy powders from down the street. (Note to my friend who came to the show, and shall remain nameless: I’m pretty sure that was bleach.)

Tame Impala

Unless you’re really into whispy, effeminate dudes, the show wasn’t thrilling to watch, but the music did the work. The balance of beautiful vocals (Parker sounds like the spawn of John Lennon and a sunbeam) delectable melodies, bursts of dissonance, rawk grind and hypnotic vamps pushed all the right buttons, sometimes all at once, within the same tune.

But the rhythm of the set was done right, too, from the pacing to the weaving of material from their two records, Innerspeaker and Lonerism. Songs from the latter — a record named best LP of 2012 by many a critic, website and magazine, including this one — were clearly the crowd favourites, but the raw homespun vibe of their debut sounded pretty hot in the big room, too.

The encore? “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control,” of course. It’s a beaut. ■

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