Tame Impala set the club on fire. No, really. During the Perth, Australia band’s encore, they brought so much heat to an amplifier that it caught on fire. As most of the crowd gazed up onto the balcony to watch as officials sprayed the blaze with a fire extinguisher, the small group of people standing on the club’s second level had to temporarily clear the area.
The fire was quickly contained, but not without leaving most of the audience wondering whether it was an accident or if the band truly did play louder than any other performer in Headliners’ history. As unlikely as that is, this sold-out show will go down in history either way.
The drunk guy in front of me turned around and said, “They set the place on fire, dude,” with the goofiest grin on his face.
Some people call Tame Impala “The Beatles reincarnated,” and that’s a lazy but sort of accurate evaluation. Then again, when you turn up the reverb on the microphone that much, even a six year old would sound like Paul McCartney.
But this five-piece is also using synthesizer effects that are more akin to 80s pop music than your typical storm of psychedelia (try the intro to “Solitude is Bliss”). Whatever Tame Impala is doing – no matter what generation they’re drawing from – they’re doing it right.
While none of the musicians on stage were much to watch, they display a projector screen behind them with graphics that swirl and pulse with every beat and riff. This was not a show that you watch. It’s one you feel.
And as stupid as that sounds, you can’t help but feel that every song is revelatory, every beat is massive and all-consuming, and every time the bass starts to groove, you’re going to live forever.
Tame Impala played some songs from their debut album and most of the tracks off 2012’s Lonerism, a sophomore album that took them from a band that was relatively unknown to one that topped many year end lists. They soared to number two on Under the Radar’s ranking.
Song after song was trance-like, from “Enders Toi” to “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.” This is feel good music, though. When the band’s took on “Elephant,” their biggest fan favorite, the venue nearly erupted. The bass, while convincingly sharp on the record, feels completely primal when it’s louder than life.
The fire that Tame Impala set was real, but the passion they spread was visceral. This was a performance that can’t be extinguished.