Tame Impala / Yuck Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto ON May 1
Published May 02, 2011Originally announced as a triple bill, Chicago's Yawn were forced to drop out of opening the show. This meant that Anglo-American '90s revivalists Yuck were moved up to the early 9:00 p.m. start time. And seeing as little notice was given of this rescheduling, this meant that strategic planning forced some people (i.e., myself) to only catch the fuzz-laden, feedback salvo of Yuck's finale, the sludgy "Rubber." If that one song is anything to go by, the band's set must have sounded like a faithful rendering of the alt-rock-affirming self-titled album.
But the 1,300-capacity Phoenix felt as though it was rammed because of the phenomenal upsurge of Perth, Australia's Tame Impala. Considering their 2010 album Innerspeaker has seen very limited distribution in North America since its release nearly a year ago, the four-piece arrived as if the thing had gone platinum in Canada alone. But clearly it wasn't just their recorded music that brought the masses out.
Having blown the roof off the Horseshoe Tavern back in November, their kaleidoscopic, groove-based pop filled the much larger Phoenix with a surround sound junkie's delight. Flipping through a set composed of their Innerspeaker debut, the band's looseness in building layers of their ornate psychedelia was remarkably controlled, especially frontman Kevin Parker's double-tracked vocals, which felt as if they could derail at any time. It was very much a physical reaction that the crowd felt too, as the discombobulating bass rumbled a considerable wallop during "Solitude Is Bliss" and their crowd-pleasing cover of Massive Attack's "Angel," while feverish former single "Remember Me" induced the shakes.
Thankfully, the band were technologically prepared to match the aural with the visual. Parker controlled an oscilloscope projector, which freaked and tweaked to the band's constant gyrations for the show's entirety. Towards the end of the set (Tame Impala politely announced they don't do encores), something completely unexpected happened: members of Yuck whispered over to Parker that Osama bin Laden had been killed. It was a "remember where you were" type moment no one in the venue will likely ever forget. And then, just like that, the band re-commenced the feel-good times with instrumental "Jeremy's Storm," ensuring that on this night, they didn't play second fiddle to the memory that would forever coincide with May 1 for their thousand-plus fans.