Sometime last week, the line between reality and what feels like an alternate universe blurred as the spread of coronavirus increased. Public institutions have been systematically vacated, starting with the entertainment industry. As shows quickly cancelled, music fans were ushered from stadium seats to the confines of their homes, but not before artist Tame Impala could rock The Forum in Los Angeles on March 10.
In hindsight, this show takes on an additional significance beyond being the second stop of The Slow Rush Tour. Psychedelic rock artist Tame Impala’s performance was one of the last major public events held before quarantine caution fully kicked in. Parker and his live band did a phenomenal job of drawing fans into Tame Impala’s universe for a momentary escape from the chaos.
“The Slow Rush” is the smoothest, most polished Tame Impala album to date. There’s a dichotomy within the band’s fanbase, as older fans seem to generally prefer the rawness of 2010 album “Innerspeaker” to the sleekness of the newer albums, which appeals more to a young adult audience. Regardless, fans on all side of the spectrum united in a rhythmic head nod as the performance entranced them.
As the lights dimmed after Clairo’s opening set, images of a celestial body began to whir across the backdrop, reaching a strobe-like intensity as Tame Impala came out to play “One More Year.” The band subtly took their positions at their instruments as the audience basked in the psychedelia of the song’s distorted synthesizers.
Without a pause, the punchy kick drums of “Borderline” rang out, and Parker left his helm at the mic stand to wander the stage and acknowledge the crowd. Moments earlier, the spectacle of the music and production design was almost overwhelming, but Parker broke the illusion to remind everyone that he’s just a guy — a guy who happens to make remarkably fun psych-pop tunes.
The lights were frenetic. The synths were incredibly crisp. Parker’s soft voice compliments a live show where the instrumentation dazzles. Judging by a drunk young woman spotted twirling an usher under her arm, the vibes were just right.
Most moments throughout the show felt dreamlike. Parker crooned “Believe me, I can,” after making a variety of promises on “Breathe Deeper,” a reverb-assured message that floated through the arena. He blissfully wailed over heavenly keys on the bridge to “New Person, Same Old Mistakes.”
Later on, confetti erupted during the triumphant breakdown on “Let it Happen,” seemingly suspended mid-air for the song’s seven minute length.
The sensory joyride peaked during the encore, as the band returned to the stage for the worldwide hit “The Less I Know the Better.” Any emotions built up during the show were released as the entire audience sang along, relishing their experience together before the night ended.
Tame Impala’s music focuses on coming to terms. Whether it be coping with a failed relationship on “Currents” or accepting nostalgia and lost time on “The Slow Rush,” Parker is constantly aiming to adapt to his circumstances.
His latest album took five years to record but was released at perhaps the perfect time. Before the coronavirus postponed everyday life, those in attendance for the short-lived Slow Rush Tour were able to detach from reality and dance for a moment. Tame Impala sent fans off with a glimmer of hope, and hopefully he will be able to welcome them back with a celebration when tour and life resume.