Tame Impala at First Avenue, 3/4/13

Categories: Last Night
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Photo by Erik Hess
Tame Impala
With the Growl
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Monday, March 3, 2013


There was one song last night when it truly felt like Tame Impala's set in the Mainroom went places. It was during "Glass Half Full of Wine," the big finale of the main set, and a song built around a gnarly, scuzzy-sounding riff. Halfway through, Kevin Parker and his band dropped into an interlude that was nothing short of mesmerizing, the pickups of his Rickenbacker beeped and plunked like a bomb that was about to go off. The music hurtled through space, slowly ratcheting up the tension, until suddenly the main riff came crashing back in. It was a moment that felt like an invigorating punch to the face.

But for most of the rest of the night, the Perth buzz band's set felt weighed down by its own expertise -- music, perfectly executed, that strove to sound over-sized, but without many actual songs to back it all up.

See Also:
Slideshow: Tame Impala at First Avenue, 3/4/13
Slideshow: Tame Impala at the 7th St. Entry

The praise for Tame Impala's latest album, Lonerism, has been nearly unanimous since its release last fall. Boosted by a 9.0 review from Pitchfork -- the sort of thing that's basically a coronation for greatness, or at least relevance, these days -- plus the fact that the album topped both NME and Rolling Stone's year-end lists, it felt like Parker's group was on the crest of a wave as it returned to Minneapolis for the first time in over two years. Certainly, judging by social media, the night seemed to be a preordained epic.
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Photos by Erik Hess
For anyone eager to hear the band play its songs exactly the way they sound on record, there was little to be disappointed about -- a fact that's no mean feat given how painstakingly produced they are in the studio. Parker, who had a tangle of pedals and cables strewn out before him onstage, hopped around barefoot as he unleashed an almost-constant onslaught of phasers and delays on the crowd.

In fact, for the first half of the show, Parker seemed so wrapped up in his own process that he hardly seemed to take notice of anyone else. That the opening mantra was "Solitude Is Bliss" almost seemed a little too appropriate, and it set the tone; it was almost as though Parker was playing for himself. Most of the time, the singer simply looked down at his guitar while he played, usually only breaking out of his repose to turn around and face the rest of the band, back turned to the rest of the room.

The bigger problem, though, was that the songs weren't really that interesting -- technically impressive, yes, but not necessarily interesting. Of course, it would be an oversimplification to say merely that the songs sounded too much alike. More specifically, Parker's songwriting, often anchored in sludgy riffs, tends to march along in monolithic lockstep, as though building toward some grand payoff. (Forget the Beatles comparisons; this stuff aims to be stadium rock.) But more often than not -- take, to name a song from early in the night, "Music to Walk Home By," interjected with a keyboard solo that was futuristic in the most unimaginative sense -- what passes for dynamics is little more than a pair of alternating, two-chord riffs, dressed up with special effects.


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14 comments
uncleyuri
uncleyuri

This review sucked. Loser can't even get song titles correct..."Half Full Glass of Wine". Do your research. Music critics are just jealous they didn't come up with such cool songs. Tame Impala rules, that show was gorgeous, and Tame Impala rules.

karlabarge
karlabarge

Um, yes.  This is the concert I was at too.  Lots of guitarbation and monotonous "jamming" between what felt like six or seven nearly identical songs.  (With exceptions as already noted in review.)  It felt like someone's party basement and if you were sixteen and stoned it was probably an incredible experience.  (Which might be an apt description of a nice chunk of the audience.) 

Jason Kokal
Jason Kokal

Can hipster rock just die already? sheesh

Josh Olson
Josh Olson

also i'm so confused by this review..."Yet, in the end, it's hard to justify the hype surrounding Tame Impala these days. Beyond the immaculate playing and self-indulgent tendencies, there's little in the way of true excitement." Come on, were you even there? self-indulgent?

Gunnar Kauth
Gunnar Kauth

Tame's shows are usually filled with dad's so I guess that's worth partial credit?

yoopie93
yoopie93

Wow, I'm not sure which show the reviewer was at last night.  That show sounded like it was pretty bad.  However, the Tame Impala show that everyone else went to last night was incredible.  There was nothing in the way of self-indulgence and "stadium rock" posturing, but instead was a young band at their absolute peak performing to a jubilant, sold out crowd.  The fact that their last album was almost universally heralded as one of 2012's best is not an accident, nor is it the work of a band that is "uninspired" and "choreographed."  This reviewer is of course entitled to his opinion, but it's quite clear that he had his mind made up about the band before the show even started.  Perhaps City Pages can employ more objective--and more musically knowledgeable--reviewers in the future.

cbats
cbats

I don't think the comments on this article are going to be very happy but I thought this was a great review. Critical but fair. More of this City Pages!

olso6311
olso6311

I have a problem with this review...you make it sound like it's a bad thing that Kevin wasn't engaging with the crowd; that is kind of a jaded perspective.  

Lily Troia
Lily Troia

Well, the stoners and hipsters around me all had a fabulous time dancing their asses off together. Sorry you missed out on that show.

yoopie93
yoopie93

@karlabarge I am neither 16 years old (far from it) nor have I ever smoked weed.  Yet I can appreciate the brilliance of this band and their live show.  You don't have to take my word for it--you can look up any of the glowing reviews of their live shows or ask any of the ecstatic fans who enjoyed the amazing sound of Tame Impala.  It sounds like your opinion of the show and the band are formed by your lame stereotyping of the fans and not the actual show.  Same as the reviewer.  Too bad, because had you gone in with an open mind you would have experienced the same amazing show as everyone else.

olso6311
olso6311

Also, Stadium-rock??  Do you know what that means?

karlabarge
karlabarge

@yoopie93 @karlabarge Oh, I get it now  Ecstatic Fans at a show means it was a great show.  That means pretty much every show I have ever been to was awesome as most bands do tend to attract those who adore them.   Justin Bieber anyone?

Or maybe just everyone does not love the same types of things?  Glad you enjoyed it though. 

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