Scattered enthusiasts, charged by the suddenly dimmed stage lights, called out for the Australian-based band. With a good pair of headphones, Tame Impala’s songs wash over you. Playing live Friday night at the Royale, they were a tidal wave.
Opening for Tame Impala was The Amazing, a Swedish six-piece that presented a seamlessly layered sound. Their psychedelic effect depended on a tight blend of instrumental parts, with the folky vocals serving as just another piece of the puzzle. Smooth, slightly fuzzy electric guitar played off underlying synth and acoustic. The snare on songs such as “Flashlight” kept a palpable groove going, adding an accented bite to dreamier moments, especially those layered under airy jazz flute.
The Amazing’s unique sound got respect from the chilled-out audience. They had a talent for shifting focus from instrument to instrument, so just when you latched on to one rhythm, you would be fed another. The Amazing proceeded with little banter, stopping only to say “hello” and “thank you.” They tranquilized the chattering, antsy crowd, but the feeling did not last long after they left the stage and Tame Impala came on.
Groans of feedback and a drum loop from multi-instrumentalist Dominic Simper’s synth marked the beginning of the set. Although “Be Above It,” the first track on Tame Impala’s new album Lonerism, was the natural prelude to the performance, technical problems caused the song to feel suspiciously thin. The din of the club seemed to drown out the crucial “Gotta be above it” chant that rumbles throughout the song, neutralizing some of the anticipation that normally teases the guitar entrances. But after some tweaking, the Aussies filled up the room and brought album-quality sound — maybe better.
“Solitude is Bliss,” InnerSpeaker’s most popular single, felt like the real opener. Bass and heavy drums drove the verses, and Kevin’s vocals carried the infectious chorus — “You will never come close to how I feel.”
A thousand electrified fans screamed the lyrics into five unshakably mellow faces. The introversion that pervades this song (“There’s a party in my head, and no one is invited”) summed up the mood of the night.
For the band, 95 percent of the show was spent with eyes closed, heads down and in a trance. Kevin was the kite string that kept the group tethered, taking care of all the audience interaction. But even he became comically withdrawn, periodically plopping down cross-legged during a jam. At certain peak moments, such as the funky break tucked into “Desire Be Desire Go,” the audience joined them in that headspace. Repetitive riffs and a pulsing, psychedelic backdrop sucked the crowd in –– a sweet spot achieved again during the encore.
In contrast, the deep, pacing guitar in “Elephant” sparked some rowdy dancing and crowd-surfing, which lasted for the rest of the performance. Impala prolonged the release of the closing verse by breaking down into a noisy interlude, sounding completely extraterrestrial.
Bassist Nick Allbrook emerged for the encore with an armful of strange, spiny flowers, which he tossed into the crowd. Finally, the fans who had been chanting “Half Full Glass of Wine” for the entire set, launched into a blissful, 15-minute freak-out. Jay’s synth filtered down through the guitars’ fluid repetitions, a progression that radiated from the stage. They built steadily to an overwhelming peak of sound, then returned to the bluesy verse riff, ending the show with style.
“Last place we were at, we didn’t get half as much love,” said Parker, early into the performance.
The statement was difficult to believe in the context of such a great show. But, if we learned anything from Friday night, it’s that Boston really does love Tame Impala.