Tame Impala sets bar “high” at first of two Hollywood Forever shows

After seeing them play at a handful of festivals this year, I was convinced: Tame Impala was meant to be seen outdoors. Thursday night, the Australian psych-rockers headlined their first of two nights at the renowned Hollywood Forever Cemetery and it couldn’t have gone much better.

A sheet hung in front of the stage and a green light bounced around the front of it as the intro to their set began to play. A steady build of anticipation began to mount and when the sheet came down in time for an extended version of “Let It Happen,” the packed lawn was ready.

I was surprised how easy it was to get to the front section of the standing crowd, maybe 20 feet from the stage. A large percentage of the hipsters that attended were maybe there more for the picnic and the BYOB aspect than the music, which was fine by me. Kevin Parker’s band is best absorbed up close, where their awesome visuals can fully be appreciated.

Parker told the crowd he’d been looking forward to this night for a long time. It likely was because of how the cemetery was the perfect setup for them, but part of me thinks it had to do with wiping the slate clean from their last headlining performance in LA at the Shrine Auditorium, where their set was strife with technical difficulties.

Tame Impala has progressed beyond any modern psych-rock band in recent years. They have the potential to be this era’s Pink Floyd – and Thursday’s performance did no disservice to that momentum. “Elephant” sounds as though it was recorded with Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” heavily on the mind. The popular track prompted a large portion of crowd to set off bounds of pot smoke (well, more than was already floating through the air, at least) in happiness.

Their latest release Currents was featured heavily in the setlist. Along with “Let It Happen,” Parker and his posse played “The Moment,” “Eventually,” “The Less I Know the Better,” and the ever-popular single “’Cause I’m a Man,” which was just recently covered by HAIM. There was a bit more singalong than I expected, and Parker’s fuzzied vocals went hand in hand with the spooky visuals behind him.

The only downside of Hollywood Forever’s awesome BYOB policy are the people that bring more booze than they can handle. There was a younger crowd right in front of me towards the front that began to fight a life and death battle with standing upright – a battle they eventually lost. As people kept falling into me behind them, I remarked out loud to someone next to me about remembering my first beer. Some girl in the group of drunk clowns told me to “calm the f*ck down,” when really I was just making light of their stupidity. Someone must have lost something in the grass because phone flashlights were out and they cleared a big space in the crowd. It was quite a nuisance but luckily it was wrapped up by the time Tame Impala closed their set with “Apocalypse Dreams.”

Their encore of “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” and “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control” was a perfect way to wrap up the night, and there’s no doubt many will return Friday for the second night. Tame Impala live makes you feel like you’re on drugs even when you aren’t, which made me wonder what people that were obviously on drugs were feeling during their set. Also, don’t these people have dayjobs to go to in the morning? Also, kudos to the staff for handing out free waters on the way out of the venue – they knew their demographic and the likely number of people who were probably coming down off something as they left.

As I made my way back to the street, I was bummed out by the amount of people walking right over people’s gravestones with no respect at all. It may be an awesome place to see a show but people need to respect the fact it’s happening where people’s loved ones are buried.

All in all, Tame Impala is the kind of act that needs to be booked regularly at Hollywood Forever. I’ll have spent my Friday desperately looking for a ticket for a second go-round, and I definitely won’t miss them when they come back around again.

Words: Mark E. Ortega

Photo via @FollowMyTracks

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