The band Tame Impala describes its music as “psychedelic hypno-groove melodic rock.” It certainly went down well with the glassy-eyed crowd and telltale aroma that filled Terminal 5 on Feb. 19.
The four Australians and one Frenchman were kicking off their 2013 North American tour. A screen above them showed swirly lines reminiscent of a Spirograph. On the stage floor awaiting the bare feet of lead guitarist Kevin Parker sat an array of effects pedals.
Parker deployed the spacey notes opening “Apocalypse Dreams” and a voice steeped in reverb, backed by a tight rhythm, a steady bass line from Nick Allbrook and solid keyboards. The tune swelled into a wall of sound before a brief pause at its climax -- and then the band jumped back in as Parker fell to his knees for adorational jamming. The trippy and fluid number left the crowd wrapped in the band’s power.
Parker quickly moved into “Solitude Is Bliss,” a standout number from the 2010 debut record, “Innerspeaker.” Parker and guitarist Dominic Simper let their instruments playfully weave around each other as keyboardist Jay Watson kept the pulse and flailed his hair about in the throes of sonic possession.
Coming on the scene a few years back, the youthful group, whose founding four members hail from Perth, Australia, made a splash with its neo-psychedelic pop sound. Last year’s highly and rightfully touted sophomore album, “Lonerism,” exposed them to the masses. It also happened to be my favorite disk of the year.
The record builds upon their fondness for the music of the 1960s and heavy doses of keys. The band altered its lineup by moving Watson from drums to keyboards and adding drummer Julien Barbagallo, the Frenchman.
At Terminal 5, the new record’s “Endors Toi” had both Simper and Watson on keys before Simper slipped back to his guitar, and both he and Parker chopped away until Watson and Barbagallo took over with a break-beat remix-style jam that moved the crowd back and forth -- like a puppeteer maneuvering his little friends.
On “Elephant,” a hard-rocking number, the group matched the recording’s jagged guitar riffs, then moved into an avant-garde jazzy jam, worked back into the main rhythm and suddenly ended. The rug was playfully pulled out.
“Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” featured Parker’s spot-on John Lennon voice carrying a late-’60s easy-flowing Beatles-like ditty. The short tune drew some of the biggest cheers.
The set-closing “Half Full Glass of Wine” offered the guys a canvas to stretch out. As Barbagallo tapped cymbals, Parker, Simper, and Watson all took to the guitars. Deep and dark chords were followed by Parker’s wobbly vocal and then a call-and-response jam as the quintet rocked with heads down. For 10 minutes the crowd bounced along with the music.
The encore was a live debut of “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control” from “Lonerism.” Keys blossomed and the beat was big. Parker played in unison with the projectors’ looped lines, while Watson slowly worked the piano into a gentle landing for us all.
Tame Impala continue their North America tour through March and will be returning to the U.S. for a few dates in spring, including some of the premiere music festivals: Coachella, Sasquatch and Bonnaroo.
Here’s a selection of New York-area shows in March. Please note that opening bands aren’t always listed. Shows marked (SO) are sold out, although online services such as Craigslist often have tickets.
March 1 The Orwells/The So So Glos/Radkey at Santos Party House March 2 BOY at Union Hall March 3 Beach Fossils/Chris Cohen/Divorce Money at 285 Kent Ave March 4 Citizens!/HITS/Grayshot at Music Hall of Williamsburg March 5 Slam Donahue/Nicos Gun at Brooklyn Bowl March 6 Youth Lagoon/Eddi Front at Bowery Ballroom (SO) March 7 Django Django/Night Moves at Music Hall of Williamsburg (SO) March 8 Stars/Milo Greene at Music Hall of Williamsburg (SO) March 9 Man Without Country/Midnight Faces at Knitting Factory March 10 The Jeffrey Lewis & Peter Stampfel Band at Mercury Lounge March 11 Shout Out Louds/Little Children at Music Hall of Williamsburg March 12 The Whigs at Mercury Lounge (Late Show) March 13 The Allman Brothers Band at Beacon Theater March 14 Atoms For Peace (DJ Set) at Le Poisson Rouge (SO) March 15 Drive-By Truckers/Old 97’s at Capitol Theatre March 16 Dr. John & The Night Trippers and Allen Toussaint at Town Hall March 17 Pinback/JP Inc. at Music Hall of Williamsburg March 18 CHVRCHES/Dan Croll at Mercury Lounge (Early & Late) (SO & SO) March 19 Savages at Music Hall of Williamsburg March 20 Low at The Concert Hall March 21 Disclosure at Bowery Ballroom (SO) March 22 Alt-J/Hundred Waters at Webster Hall (SO) March 23 Esben & the Witch/Heliotropes at Knitting Factory March 24 The Hives at Irving Plaza March 25 Sigur Ros/Tim Hecker at Madison Square Garden March 26 Little Gr’een Cars at Music Hall of Williamsburg March 27 Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell/Richard Thompson Electric Trio at Beacon Theater March 28 Kate Nash/Supercute! at Music Hall of Williamsburg (SO) March 29 Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds/Sharon Van Etten at Beacon Theater (SO) March 30 Ital/Container/Co La at 285 Kent Ave
(Jaime Widder works in sales for Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are his own.)