Tame Impala is a beloved kaleidoscope of a modern rock band — and just the sort of nonchalant, divine exit music for which a chilly day calls.
Friday night at the Austin City Limits Music Festival’s Honda stage, your favorite rapper’s favorite rock band grooved in neon for bundled-up fans.
“We are called Tame Impala, all the way from Australia,” singer Kevin Parker told Zilker Park. “It’s so good to be back in Austin, second time this week.”
The throwaway banter came amid the bridge to set-opening “Let It Happen,” just before the funky breakdown.
The band’s moonwalking bass lines and slick falsetto are sublime. At its core, it’s disco-flavored rock. But it embraces the times and adds modern synths and hip-hop drums. Fans tossed glow sticks as they nodded along in a haze.
Austin360's critique last week was that the band is too committed to recreating its songs, and so energy and improvisation take a backseat live. That was the case during this week’s jacket-mandated edition of the festival, too. Cool kids in orange Lil Uzi Vert beanies vibed as if the band was spinning records, checking their phones and less engaged than I expected. The lasers didn’t seem to do much for the people in camping chairs.
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“This is not the Texas weather that I know and love, but it sure is the Texas crowd that I know and love,” Parker added.
The five-piece band’s keyboard flourishes are awesome, no doubt, and this is rock as a reaction to rap production — congealed soup playing percussive, looping patterns. To wit, Rihanna has covered the band, and Tame Impala also last year covered the street cred-bolstering “Only You” by Nigerian R&B ‘80s idol Steve Monite. Their version was fronted by rapper Theophilus London. They’ve also recorded with Travis Scott.
At that ACL Fest picture frame that fans line up at to get a photo with the skyline behind them, onlookers were treated to a clashing blend of Tame Impala’s detail-oriented origami rock and Guns N’ Roses’ “Coma,” a thrusting track about hard times.
Shortly after, 2015’s “The Less I Know the Better” mashed up with an extended blues solo from GNR’s Slash.
If you enjoy electric guitars — wailing or sultry — you had something to watch.