Chicago’s Vic Theatre was built in 1912 to showcase traveling Vaudeville acts. But on Wednesday night, the luxurious albeit charmingly run-down venue played host to a quintet of psychedelic troubadours from the land down under. The group has been jet-setting in support of 2012’s Lonerism and this layover in the Windy City came halfway through their North American jaunt. Frontman and founder Kevin Parker greeted the at-capacity crowd with a sped up rendition of “Solitude is Bliss” before setting sail upon a warm sea of psilocybin, warped effects pedals, and floating synthesizers.
In keeping with their own type of jam band ethos, Tame Impala fleshed-out and rearranged crowd favorites, such as “Feels Like we Only go Backwards” and “Elephant”, which featured both an exploratory guitar solo and as well as an extended kick drum symphony. The ambiance of a 1960’s revival was enhanced by a projector flashing ecto-green visualizer soundwaves on the backdrop, which pulsed out a vibe like a flower-child discovering her first wireless tablet.
The group was having a keen sort fun on stage and it showed. The audience members, with happy faces floating between psychoactive clouds of cannabis, were bobbing their heads, shaking their beer cans, and grooving to the music. It was the kind of performance that my generation’s collective Woodstock venturing uncle could enjoy. Just a great rock show, plain and simple.
Parker was a gracious leading man, thanking the crowd and reminding them to take in the humble beauty of the moment. Perth is a long way from Chicago, after all. “How do you guys not have snowball fights everyday? It’s amazing!” he joked about the icy moat and remnants of a blizzard surrounding the concert hall before pouncing on an uptempo version of “Alter Ego”. If the experimental, spaced-out intro to “Mind Mischief” was any indicator, then it seems Tame Impala is continuing to build momentum in preparation for festival season, where the group will be laying down sets at Coachella, Sasquatch, and Bonnaroo.
As much fun as it was seeing them perform indoors, the ideal setting for an act like this is outside on a sunny day, with shoes off, toes in the grass, and daisies in your hair. How Tame Impala managed to bring that sensation midweek to a frozen metropolis is a testament their staying power as performers.
Photos by Jeremy D. Larson.
Solitude Is Bliss
It Is Not Meant to Be
Music to Walk Home By
Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?
Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
Be Above It
Glass Half Full of Wine
Nothing That Has Happened So Far