Tame Impala's Psych Rock Felt Uneven At The Riv

By Jessica Mlinaric in Arts & Entertainment on May 20, 2015 6:30PM

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Photo by Jessica Mlinaric

Tame Impala treated the Riviera to a psych rock singalong last Friday night, touring ahead of the release of their upcoming third album, Currents. The Aussie quartet showered the sold-out crowd with trippy synths and moody reverb that were received with feverish approval.

While the set featured only three new songs, the album's opener, “Let it Happen,” was a highlight. An instrumental interlude gave way to a sunny cocktail of tinkling keys, taut percussion and a sweeping loop breakdown at the midpoint, culminating in a crunchy synth chorus that felt more Daft Punk than Grateful Dead.

Barefoot bandleader Kevin Parker’s airy falsetto guided the crowd through a setlist heavy on standouts from 2012’s Lonerism, with the trance-like “Why Won’t They Talk to Me?” altering states into the straightforward guitar rock of “Elephant.”

Yet the band’s level of engagement never matched the dazzling vibrancy of their morphing psychedelic backdrop, save for the spirited drumming of Julien Barbagallo. Translating a one-man studio band to the stage is a distinct challenge, and as the show went on Tame Imapala’s players were absorbed into dancing paisley patterns. The grooves being offered on the stage fell flat at the back of the club, and some concert goers commented they’d prefer the lusher vinyl version of the band while others stared ahead wide-eyed, receiving the transmission of vibes.

The encore closed the show on a stronger note and included hazy favorite “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.” Despite the missteps, Tame Impala’s new material has me hoping the band will keep progressing forward in advancing their sound and live performance.