TAME IMPALA at The Phoenix, Monday, November 12. Rating: NNNN
It's sometimes nice to go to a rock show and not get pummeled relentlessly by sound. Thanks, Tame Impala. The psychedelic Aussie five-piece are plenty powerful, but they take a dreamy, mellow road to get there, incorporating spacious guitar riffs, hypnotic mid-tempo grooves, hazy keyboards and an ocean of space echo.
It's a sweetly druggy experience that was enhanced at the Phoenix by pulsating geometric wall projections and the thick scent of pot smoke. Plus, bed-headed bandleader Kevin Parker's voice sounds eerily like John Lennon's, apparent to anyone who's ever heard them. (In general, The Beatles are Tame Impala's overwhelming reference point.)
Tunes from their recent second album, Lonerism, dominated the set, with the melodic, swirling Feels Like We Only Go Backwards and the heavy, chugging Elephant being the clear standouts. The latter's also a departure: more hashish than marijuana, like a proggier Ozzy-era Black Sabbath tune.
They fearlessly dismantled the song partway through, starting with a left-field drum solo and then emptying it out almost completely. When it kicked back in, the feel-good vibes momentarily reached euphoria before mellowing out again.