Tame Impala Deliver Stellar Opening Performance

South Side Ballroom (Dallas, TX)
– Words by Austin Reed / Photos by James Villa –

I wouldn’t consider myself to be any sort of validated contributor to pop culture at all. Hundreds of thousands of other people do that. At best, I’m an observer. All I can do is watch as the world’s cultural landscape drifts, meanders, shuffles and shape-shifts. This is what pop culture does, and this is what pop culture has always done. It’s not static; in fact, it’s top-tier volatility at its finest. But this is what makes it such an important and recognizably interesting part of our lives. Whether we’re around to witness it, pop culture will change—probably faster than we can.

This is singularly why Tame Impala is one of the most compelling bands in the world right now.

Tame Impala (South Side Ballroom - Dallas, TX) 10/12/13

Developed to be an accouterment to front man Kevin Parker’s already musically prolific background, Tame Impala is the poster child for the fluidity of musical genre as a means of classification. Within the realm of dreamy, psychedelic rock and roll, Tame Impala can do no wrong. Parker himself is a spectacle; combining the lethargic-yet-deliberately substantive vocal drawl of John Lennon with the emotional wherewithal and lurid stage presence of Roger Waters, his technique and demeanor are the jet fuel behind the band and, ultimately, the empirical evidence behind what happens when you throw out the playbook. It’s like watching the Abbey Road-era Beatles go toe-to-toe with Dark Side-era Pink Floyd if the referee was Keith Moon and the bout took place last month. There is absolutely nothing conventional about Tame Impala, their sound or what they represent amid the landscape. And at the rate they continue to grow both in their own sound and their popularity, that’s perfectly okay.

Saturday night (and, once again, let us all collectively thank Austin City Limits for this), Tame Impala delivered one of the strongest, most visually astonishing and most sonically gratifying performances Dallas has seen all year. And what’s better? They were the opening act.

Unlike their two full-length LP’s, Innerspeaker and Lonerism, Tame Impala uses their live-show format as a vehicle for a more jam-based performance, which is hilarious, given the immeasurable amount of talent each band member possesses and how apparent it is on stage. Several of the more easily recognizable tracks from each LP were effortlessly transformed into 15-minute-long explorations in psychedelic groove. Midway through the set, Impala unleashed one of the more mutated renditions of fan favorite, “Elephant,” that I’ve ever heard. “Elephant,” transitioned into Lonerism opener, “Be Above It,” followed closely by the band’s calling card, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.” And this three-song stretch clocked in at just less than 30 minutes.

Methodical and carefully curated, Tame Impala’s performance Saturday night flawlessly prepared the stage and the crowd for the evening’s main act: The National. Stay tuned for the review on The National’s beautifully designed, emotionally charged performance.

James Villa