The Bowery Presents
Tame Impala

Tame Impala

special guests Delicate Steve

Mon, November 10, 2014

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Beacon Theatre

New York, NY

$45, $35

Sold Out

This event is all ages

Tame Impala
Tame Impala
Tame Impala are Kevin Parker, Cam Avery, Julien Barbagello, Dominic Simper, and Jay Watson. Loosely formed in 2007 from a collection of Perth bands, with some changes in members and configurations along the way, one thing remains consistent -- a shared love for rock, blues, jazz, psychedelic -- pretty much, music. Tame Impala's first release, a self-titled EP, debuted in 2008, followed by their first album "Innerspeaker" in 2010. The second, often feared but sublimely successful long-player "Lonerism " was released in 2012. They've been touring to support ever since.

Wow. Who are we kidding? You know this story. You also know that whether you're listening to an album, or watching a live show, Tame Impala is an experience that is actually mind-blowing, saturated with simplistic beauty and boundless creativity.

It was the release of "Innerspeaker" (2010) that made the world stand up and take notice of these boys from Perth. It was thanks, in part, to its irreverent, contemporary spin on assumedly dead and forgotten sounds, as well as its unique, infinitely surprising way around a melody. "Innerspeaker" was recorded and produced entirely by Kevin in a treehouse with 180-degree views of the Indian Ocean. With Flaming Lips' Dave Fridmann on mixing duties and Death in Vegas' Tim Holmes at the engineering wheel, "Innerspeaker" achieved the "absolutely explosive" sound that Parker was stretching to reach.

As each single rolled out from "Solitude is Bliss" to "Lucidity" to "Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind," the world had gone from taking notice to ecstatically jumping up and down with madly flailing arms. Tours were organized, festival offers came through thick and fast, Jimmy Fallon called, and the world got to see, instead of just hear, what it was all about.

After the "Innerspeaker" chapter came to a close, the boys enjoyed a momentary respite. It wasn't long until Kevin dove back into the creative wormhole with the ideas for album number two, this time extracting the sounds from his brain by way of his trusty home recording studio. Thankfully, a portable set-up, this album was recorded around the globe, most prominently in Perth and Paris. Again, mixed by Dave Fridmann, the end result was "Lonerism," gifted to the incredibly eager world in October 2012.

In Kevin's own words, "Lonerism" incorporates "an expanded sonic palette, more emotional song writing, and a more pronounced narrative perspective." The song writing is as joyously screwy as ever. Songs swerve when you expect them to duck, and turn in on themselves when you expect them to straighten out, there's so many melodic curveballs, it's marvellously dizzying.

With singles like "Elephant," "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" and "Keep On Lying," "Lonerism" is lyrically sweet and casual, relaxed but at times deadly serious, and remarkably, deeply amorous.

"Lonerism" received worldwide praise and endorsements from fellow artists and A-listers, garnered all-star ratings from industry and tastemakers, including perhaps the most heart-melting accolade of them all, the adorable kids of PS22 covering "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards".

Record Store Day 2014 saw a very limited and subsequent sell-out release, simply titled "Live Versions," featuring nine handpicked recordings from a Chicago show in 2013. Parker chose these songs because of how different they sound live compared to their studio counterparts.

Tame Impala were recently announced as playing headline support at 2015's Coachella and Governors Ball. An album is sure to be released by mid-2015, and subsequently, international headlining tours and music festival main stages are guaranteed to be mesmerized. The plot-thickens for Kevin Parker and his band of music-makers, as this story is proving to be an addictive page-turner.
special guests Delicate Steve
special guests Delicate Steve
The first time I heard any of this music, Steve was giving me a lift home after a Nat Baldwin show. We were going up Allen Street in Manhattan, and I'd finally convinced him to play me something from the new album. "This is going to be the last song," he said, and put on "Luna." OK, maybe I'd had a couple of beers, but in the dark of night the lights of passing cars and neon signs glowed molten and forlorn just like Steve's guitar, and there was a serene space in the music as if it were the eye of a storm. It was one of those times when surroundings, moment and music combine to make a powerful impression. I'll always remember it.

And that's a big part of Delicate Steve - the mystical synergy that music can have with life. It's why the new album is called Positive Force. "I want to put out a positive feeling," says Steve. "It's so much more fun to get people all excited and uplifted."

And like its predecessor, 2010's also aptly titled Wondervisions, Positive Force really is uplifting, straight outta the idyllic, tree-lined streets of Steve's hometown of Fredon, deep in rural New Jersey, where he wrote and recorded this album. (Listen closely and you can hear the local crickets in a couple of songs.) Maybe it's a little more burnished, leisurely and cunningly layered this time, but there's still that winsome Delicate Steve charm, by turns tender and triumphant, of songs like "Big Time Receiver" or "Afria Talks to You." These are eleven soulful, unabashedly heartfelt variations on the theme of joie de vivre, and each of them is kind of irresistible.

Steve not only played all the instruments on the album - very much including the lyrical and virtuosic guitar that defines the album - but he recorded the entire thing, and mixed it too. And that's all very impressive, but the thing to remember is, Steve is first and foremost a songwriter. His compositions have verses and choruses and sometimes even bridges. It's just that he doesn't happen to be a vocalist. So he gets his guitar to do that. That's why, funnily and miraculously enough, this is instrumental music you can sing along to.

Actually, a few songs do have vocals - besides "Two Lovers," there's "Big Time Receiver," "Touch," and "Redeemer." (Steve sings, joined occasionally by Christian Peslak and Mickey Sanchez from the crackerjack Delicate Steve live band) And even then, the human voice is just another instrument. "As guitar-driven as this album might be," Steve says, "I didn't want it to feel like an instrumental record. I wanted it to have a more encompassing thing, so it couldn't be called instrumental." So Steve calls it wordless music.

But where on earth does this wordless music come from? Steve says the inspirations for Positive Force included a bunch of classic rock, like Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the Kinks. You can hear the Beach Boys in "Love," the title of "Afria Talks to You" is a deliberately misspelled reference to Sly Stone, the guitar playing on "Tallest Heights" is Steve's tribute to Michael Jackson's vocal style, and "Luna" is a tribute to Miles Davis. Steve's ultra-expressive, melodic slide work hails back to Derek & the Dominos and George Harrison, and I hear some serious proto-Delicate Steve in Santana's sublime "Samba Pa Ti," not to mention various Afro-pop and all reggae's sunsplashed variations.

But there's a futuristic gleam to Delicate Steve that deletes all comparison to just about anything except maybe contemporaries like Yeasayer, Ratatat and the late, great Ponytail. Yeasayer's Anand Wilder, a big Delicate Steve fan, said the music reminded him of early '80s stuff by French-Beninese musician Wally Badarou, who also made bright, upbeat music drenched in ecstatic sunshine. (That explains the title of "Wally Wilder.")

You might notice the hot licks all over Positive Force. Or you might not, since they're so tastefully deployed. That's a big reason why Steve has become a go-to guitarist in the New York-area underground. One night in December last year, he played at downtown NYC avant music club the Stone with a riveting side project by Anand Wilder - and he was so great that the next band, which featured members of Javelin, Man Man and Cibo Matto, asked him to sit in. In 2011, he did an exquisite collaborative single with the great Brooklyn band Callers, sat in with Nat Baldwin from Dirty Projectors, Akron/Family, Fang Island, Janka Nabay, Yellow Ostrich and Ra Ra Riot, and that May, the Delicate Steve live band backed up Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo and Les Savy Fav's Tim Harrington on some smokin' Minutemen covers at yours truly's Our Band Could Be Your Life tribute concert in New York.

All this stuff happens not just because Steve is a splendid musician but because he and his music exude what we call in the business "a good vibe." That feeling permeates every nook and cranny of this record. In a world that does its level best to validate every bitter, cynical thought you've ever had, Positive Force is, in its own delightful way, provocative - it challenges you to accept unqualified sweetness and warmheartedness. "The world is already so full of stuff," Steve observes. "So if you're going to put something in, why not make it something good, instead of adding more negativity. That's part of the mission statement."
Venue Information:
Beacon Theatre
2124 Broadway
New York, NY, 10023
http://www.beacontheatre.com/faq/index.html