ACL Review: Tame Impala


Tame Impala balances hypnotic synths and pulsing drums.

Staff Writer

An epileptic stuffed tiger named Gavin. The sun setting on a crisp fall afternoon. And the best psychedelic rock the world has heard since Love and the 13th Floor Elevators first manned their axes and phaser pedals in the mid 1960s.

Put them all together and you get the greatest set of ACL 2013, perhaps the greatest set of any festival attended to date by this author (the count now up to six): Tame Impala.

Kevin Parker, the Australian wunderkind behind nearly all of the instrumentation and production on his psych project’s two critically-acclaimed releases, 2010’s “Innerspeaker” and 2012’s “Lonerism,” was simply electrifying. After taking the stage and holding up Gavin for the audience to behold, he and his impeccable touring band entered into a mind-melting hour of precisely calculated and articulated jam-laced bliss.

Starting off with track five of “Innerspeaker,” the spacey “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?,” a self-aware exploration of human insecurity and uncertainty, the set peaked five songs in with two taste-making tracks off “Lonerism” in a row: “Elephant,” easily the grooviest jam of 2012, and “Be Above It,” a hypnotic, snare-driven drone tune packed with wavy synths and whispered, repetitious vocals.

Live, the latter song hit the audience (or at least this author) like a freight train to the chest: explosive, propulsive, and featuring the most tight and danceable, yet simultaneously deeply psychedelic, jam ever exposed to human consciousness. Some form of movement became absolutely necessary upon exposure to the driving beat, and the crowd went absolutely ape.

Coming down from the high of “Be Above It” seemed like the only possible follow-up after the final hit of the song, but we found ourselves still deep within the throes of the trip, at the mercy of Kevin Parker and Co., as the next wave hit us in the form of the fall 2012 banger “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.”

Finishing off the set with the monstrous “Mind Mischief” and “Apocalypse Dreams,” along with a heavily phased drum solo from Julien Barbagallo, Tame Impala left the crowd with an afterglow that continues to the time of writing and a memory of what will go down in legend as perhaps the single tightest, most aurally ecstatic hour of live music ever to be delivered unto the earth by human entities.