Kevin Parker’s once-underground rock band Tame Impala has reached new heights of fame, with fans eagerly awaiting a new album that was supposed to be released by the end of the summer. Though the album has yet to drop, crowds still started to line up at the Wharf under the hot sun as early as noon anxiously hoping to get a spot close to the front of the stage.
The band offered a concert experience that transcended usual concert fare at the Anthem on Aug. 24 and 25 to end its 2019 summer tour. Tame Impala’s iconic psychedelic tracks, all written, produced and recorded by Parker, along with some well-timed lights throughout the show, seemed to throw the audience into an altered state. In this hypnotizing space, lost love hurt more deeply, but the magic of life abounded.
The show opened with a clip of people walking on a field, which melted into layers of color as the band took to the stage and began playing the first song from their album “Currents,” “Let it Happen.” The track has a notoriously complex riff that repeats at different time intervals, but the touring band executed it perfectly on the Anthem’s stage.
Right as the riff began, confetti exploded from the heights of the venue. The lasers and graphics linked the sights and sounds, and the confetti added a tangible aspect to an already hyper-sensory experience.
Parker, the band’s creative visionary, chose tracks for the setlist that worked extremely well. While the concert featured songs predominantly from the “Currents” album, fans were happily surprised to hear some tracks from his previous albums, “InnerSpeaker” and “Lonerism.”
Parker added a beautiful, stripped-down guitar solo to the end of “Mind Mischief,” which morphed smoothly into one of Tame Impala’s signature transition songs, “Nangs.” Alien-like and repetitive, Parker’s repeating line, “But is there something more than that?” paired with optical illusions pulsating on the screen behind the band, launched the audience into a trance.
Throughout the concert, Tame Impala played longer versions of the song intros, which effectively heightened excitement and anticipation. During “Elephant,” the band stopped completely, and the stage cut to black for a beat before everything erupted into laser beams and the first verse of the song began.
The tempo slowed when the melodic “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” played, during which Parker pointed his microphone to the crowd for each chorus. The slower but still engaging atmosphere persisted through “Borderline,” Tame Impala’s latest single.
Parker slowed it down even more with “Love/Paranoia,” which acted as a nice break for the crowd to collectively catch its breath and reflect. Simple lighting forced all focus on his words, and the three minutes of the track sobered the audience.
“Eventually,” played in pink lighting and featuring cloud-covered laser beams, found Parker relaxed and riding the high of performing. Throwing both hands into the air during his chorus, he truly owned the moment.
“Apocalypse Dreams” featured an extended ending that let Parker jam harder than he had all night. The lasers turned into strobes that undulated in exact timing with the delayed beats and melody, and, at this point, the crowd completely surrendered to the music.
Tame Impala’s concert did not end there; the stage, completely dark for a few tantalizing seconds, suddenly flared brightly as a stream of rainbow-colored light circled the perimeter of the stage. Whenever the powerful bass kicked in, the light paused and bleached itself to white.
The light switched between rainbow to white with each riff of bass until Parker made his reappearance, and the stage blackened once again. Parker’s encore consisted of three tracks: “Gossip,” “The Less I Know The Better” and “New Person, Same Old Mistakes.”
Near the end of the song, Parker came all the way to the barricade, which drove the front row into a frenzy to catch his attention. For a relatively shy performer, it was endearing to see him interact directly with the fans who waited longest to see him.
Seeing Tame Impala in a somewhat smaller venue than others he has played during this tour allowed fans to appreciate Parker’s music up close. The lasers and confetti were more contained, and thus more intense, for the crowd, and they effectively combined the senses of sight and sound throughout the concert.
Tame Impala had everything timed impressively in sync, allowing the band to recreate the loftiness of Parker’s music by having an immersive and intimate atmosphere Saturday. The venue worked well to keep everyone close to the stage; the Anthem had a wide front row barricade, two tiers of seating and a relatively shallow crowd, so even those in the back were not too far out.
In “Borderline,” Parker asks the universe, “Will I be known and loved?” Having witnessed the crowd of dedicated fans, the answer to both is an emphatic yes.