Arts, Off Campus

Tame Impala Proves To Be A Master of Live Performance at Packed Concert

For an act that is so infamously known—as a host of memes would attest—as “just one guy,” there were a lot of people on stage with Kevin Parker, known as Tame Impala, at TD Garden on Wednesday night. 

Five people joined Parker onstage on the drums, bass, and keyboard with a backdrop of distorted visuals and thundering bass behind them. But it was clear from the moment Parker took the stage that this was a one-man show. All it took was Parker stepping onstage and extending his arms toward the packed arena to captivate the cheering crowd for the rest of the night.

Wednesday’s show was the latest stop on the tour for Tame Impala’s album The Slow Rush, which Parker released in February 2020. Parker also pleased the arena of screaming fans with a number of past hits and deeper cuts from his four previous studio albums. Though his most recent album was the tour’s focus, throwbacks like “Beverly Laurel” and “Mind Mischief” reminded fans of the depth of his discography. 

Originally scheduled for 2020, the tour was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For one of the first times since 2020, there were very few people wearing masks in the TD Garden crowd for Tame Impala’s performance. Parker steered clear of any cliches about how weird it was to be back in person, as the Boston concert scene seems to be back in full swing. 

Some dedicated fans had been holding onto their tickets since 2020. Other audience members only knew his hits and had to wait until the end of the concert to sing along to “The Less I Know The Better.” Regardless of their motives, everyone in attendance was ecstatic to see Parker—heralded by both critics and fans as one of the best live acts on tour—in action.

The show started with the one-two punch of album-opener “One More Year” and his single “Borderline.” The former gave Parker the perfect melodic backdrop for his ascent onto the stage, and the latter demonstrated Parker’s ability to do his beloved songs justice in front of a live audience with almost difference between his precisely mixed songs and his crisp performance sound. 

On “Breathe Deeper,” Parker’s band brought energy to the intricate bassline as Parker played flawless lead guitar and pushed the bouncy song forward with his pitched-up vocals true to the recorded version. 

Just as Parker came to impress the crowd with his musical skills, his fans arrived dressed to impress. The crowd looked like it had come straight to the concert from a Euphoria viewing party. Purple and blue eye makeup seemed to be requirements, along with colorful patterned pants and, in many cases, pigtails adorned with rhinestones. Many men supplemented their lack of makeup with mustaches, complementing their plaid flannels and cuffed jeans. Mixed in were some outliers donning Patagonia fleeces and khakis, but they were in the minority. There has likely never been a lower concentration of Red Sox caps in one space in the City of Boston. 

Despite his colorfully dressed audience and vibrant backdrop, Parker avoided gimmicks throughout his performance. Instead, he focused on the music. He played lead guitar himself and appeared to sing all of his vocals. 

But his energy was the driving force behind the act. 

Parker reached the pinnacle of his energy on “Apocalypse Dreams” and “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” with the latter featuring showers of pastel-colored confetti. 

Even if Parker had let a backing track do all the work, the music would still have left an impact on the audience. A ring of speakers that moved up and down and shot lasers hung over Parker’s head. He also had a bass beat that you could feel in your chest beginning  in his intro to “One More Year.” The crowd was screaming for the entire show, yet every note was audible. The bass was almost palpable, yet it never drowned out a single line of vocals. 

Despite being one of his lesser-known hits, “Elephant” was far and away the most lively performance of the set. Before launching into the song’s heavy guitar riff, Parker addressed his cheering audience. 

“Shall we take things up a notch, Boston? Feel free to go as crazy as you want,” Parker said.

White flashing lights lined up with the beginning of the riff as audience members jumped around and bounced wildly off one another. Suddenly, the stage went dark, and the music went silent. The crowd began to scream, and before anyone knew what happened, a mix of red laser lights and Parker’s vocals flooded the arena. At one point, Parker appeared to take control of the lights and began tapping a contraption behind him along with the beat. With each tap came a vivid display of color launched from the many lights lining the stage. 

The one part of the show that didn’t click was a storyline about an experimental drug called “Rushium.” The drug distorts a person’s perception of time and the show opened with a video of a doctor explaining the drug and its side effects. The video became more distorted and slowed down as the intro to “One More Year” grew louder. Sugar pills labeled as the drug were also sold at merch tables, and vendors sold shirts featuring the drug’s packaging. 

While the theme didn’t detract from the music, it felt gimmicky and unnecessary. It served only as an out-of-place element to his dramatic intro. But once the actual music started, this strange detail was easily forgettable. 

Between songs, synth-heavy psychedelic tones kept the pace up and the crowd engaged. When performing his slower, deeper cuts, vivid lights and mesmerizing, pastel-colored visuals kept Parker’s listeners engaged. Engagement, however, was not an issue for Parker on songs like “Lost in Yesterday” and “Borderline,” as the crowd’s excited singing signaled its participation. 

Before performing “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” Parker took a moment to thank his Massachusetts fans. The supposed finale came with multicolor confetti, and the ring of speakers lowered to right above Parker’s head where it flooded the floor with lasers. 

When he finished his rendition and walked off stage, nobody left. Instead, the crowd’s roar grew to its loudest point of the night. Fans took out their phones and held their flashlights to the sky while chanting “Kevin” over and over again. One thing was still missing, and they knew it. 

Finally, Parker walked back onto the stage and addressed the chants. “That’s me,” he said before launching into his most iconic guitar riff. For the first time all night, nobody could hear as Parker sang the opening lines of “The Less I Know The Better,” and the fans’ admiration almost overpowered the music.

Featured Image by Ethan Ott / Heights Editor

Featured Graphic by Annie Corrigan / Heights Editor

March 18, 2022