“I forgot how fuckin’ rowdy you guys were,” Kevin Parker told an elated sold-out White Oak Music Hall just three songs into a rare Tame Impala Houston set sandwiched between their headlining Austin City Limits Music Festival weekend slots.
“Hey we played a big ass festival yesterday, and there’s already more fuckin’ energy in this place than the entire festival, I can feel it. So keep it up, guys,” he said before counting to three and launching into 2012’s “Mind Mischief.”
Whether he was being honest or blowing smoke up the crowd’s asses was beside the point – psychedelic rockers Tame Impala came all the way from Australia to take throngs of devoted Texas fans on a musically dizzying, visually kaleidoscopic adventure.
The crowd’s energy was palpable throughout set opener “Let It Happen,” a staple from their critically acclaimed 2015 album Currents. Communal hand claps guided the song from its signature transitional moment, gradually building in intensity, to its thumping second half, complete with confetti cannons and a lion roar of a guitar solo from Parker adamant on finding a home rattling inside your chest.
Spiritually charged singalongs (“Eventually”) and close quarters dancing (“Borderline") underneath a perfectly positioned half-moon with Houston’s downtown skyline in the not-so-far distance felt like a dream. When the laser show kicked into full throttle (“Elephant”), it was a downright trip.
While he has been one of the industry’s most in demand collaborators of late, Impala mastermind Kevin Parker might be one of the most introverted rock frontmen in the game. Oft a silhouette hidden in smoke, he meanders around the stage, treating it more like he might his Perth living room, beautifully purposeless save the need to enlighten his audience. When he speaks to them in between songs, he comes off as a spirit guide, aware that he might be just a soundtrack to the crowd’s own collective quests.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
With lyrics like: “Everything is changing / And there's nothing I can do / My world is turning pages / While I am just sitting here,” main set closer “Apocalypse Dreams” captures Impala’s hallmark lyrical themes of isolation and change. In a stunning coda, Parker’s performance mirrored his own transformation from bedroom recording artist to international rock star.
Underneath a single blue light on an otherwise dark stage and unaccompanied by his bandmates, he pensively strummed his guitar. Without warning, crashing drum fills and clouds of smoke enveloped Parker in their fury of white light. He emerged from it all basking in blood red lasers, flipping his shoulder-length mane and hoisting his guitar above his head as high and as victoriously as he possible could as if to prove that no one should question, or forget, how rowdy he truly is.
Let It Happen
Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind?
Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
Yes I'm Changing
The Less I Know the Better
New Person, Same Old Mistakes