Going back to their roots, Tame Impala performed their debut album, Innerspeaker, in full on April 21. The live-streamed set took place at Wave House in Yallingup, Australia, just four hours outside of Perth, the band’s stomping grounds. The house sat perched over a seemingly endless expanse of the Indian Ocean. Giant windows and open doors gave way to a brooding sunset, filling the wood-paneled room with a bronze glow.
Following the album’s tracklist, the set kicked off with “It Is Not Meant To Be,” treading heavily with crunchy guitar distortion and minimalistic lyricism from a barefoot Kevin Parker. Julien Barbagallo caused an organized commotion with crashing cymbals. To much of the excitement of the crowd, band members Shiny Joe Ryan and Jamie Terry from Pond were present for the entirety of the show.
The intimate setting, sans all the usual lasers and entrancing background visuals of amphitheater screens, brought a closeness to the set. The cameraman shied away from stale stationary angles, swiveling in the center of the band to get closeups of each member. The use of lenses that doubled visuals paralleled the acid-soaked, ’60s reminiscent tunes on Innerspeaker.
“Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?” provided a psychedelic-infused echo-chamber of twisting synths, guitar and pulsating drum beats. Parker’s harmoniously droning vocals added yet another layer of depth. “Jeremy’s Storm” washed over its listeners, telling a tale without words. The instrumental track brewed up intensifying energy, starting out as an aimless breeze of synths, charging into the full force of trudging drums and overlapping guitar drones.
Popular lead single “Solitude Is Bliss” might speak to the introverts in the crowd: “Nothing else matters, I don’t care what I miss/ Company’s okay/ Solitude is bliss/ There’s a party in my head, and no one is invited.” For the extroverts in today’s pandemic climate, the track made it easy to daydream about the 2010s when the song was on repeat, and isolation was more of a choice. Perhaps the most poppy song of the set, it provided a boost of serotonin and uplifting energy.
Highly anticipated by the crowd, commenters were screaming the lyrics to “Expectation” in all caps. The repetitive build-up of the song’s chorus, “Fluctuations are aching my soul/ Expectation is taking its toll/ Expectation is taking its toll,” hiked up the energy, where a sweaty, energized live crowd would no doubt be jumping up and down.
At the apex of the show’s climbing, meandering pace, “Runway, Houses, City, Clouds” soared out of this universe. Like a jet warming its engine, the track launched with an immediate speed and intricacy before ascending into a pleasant cruising altitude. Floating amongst the clouds, blasts of outstretching guitar and synth solos mirrored the lengthy, echoing vibrato from Parker. A rare occurrence on a set list, this was the first live performance of “Runway, Houses, City, Clouds” since 2013.
Nearing the end of the night, the sky blended together colors of pinks and blues before going completely dark. Now lit with studio lights, the band wrapped up the set with bluesy “The Bold Arrow of Time” and “I Don’t Really Mind,” which was played live for the first time since 2010 when the album was released. The latter track, “Don’t Really Mind,” leaned toward a much heavier rock presence than any other song in the set, smoothly morphing back into the tail end of “Runaway, Houses, City, Clouds” once more for its finale.
In conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the record, Tame Impala also released a short 15-minute behind-the-scenes video called “Innerspeaker – Making Memories” on YouTube. The footage takes viewers back to a humbler, granier beginning that preceded chart-smashing albums Lonerism and Currents, sold-out shows and headlining some of the biggest festivals in the world. Recorded at the very same Wave House, rain spilled down the windows through a turbulent storm. In the clip, Kevin Parker steps out on the deck, gazing out over the ocean. Blustering winds whip his long hair as he picks out psychedelic riffs on his electric guitar, unaware of the heights they’ll reach over the next decade.
Photo Credit: Marv Watson