Tame Impala (+ Working Mens Club & FEET) @ All Points East 2022 (25/08/22) Music Features Music News Music Reviews by Editor - September 4, 2022September 6, 20220 P. Ainsworth checks out All Points East… Thursday night at All Points East in Hackney, East London. The green summer leaves were beginning to falter and fall, the vibrantly flavoured (and advertised) White Claw seltzers were flowing, and, most importantly, Australian psychedelic sensation Tame Impala were about to return to London. I was lucky enough to spend my Thursday afternoon at All Points East – a festival which somehow seemed at once sprawling and relaxed – and though this article will be mainly on Tame Impala’s headline performance, special mentions are due for the other two bands I got to see that afternoon: Working Men’s Club and FEET. Working Men’s Club were propulsive, hypnotic and groovy, with frontman Syd Minsky-Sargeant leading the performance in a tetchy swagger (think Ian Curtis meets David Byrne). A highlight of the set was the electronic warble of their single Teeth, a track which is played every Thursday night on the first floor of the indie disco I religiously attend in Manchester. It’s repetitive, droning and cold, but it gets a grip on your limbs and doesn’t seem to let go. FEET were an impressive live force on the minuscule Firestone stage, playing a fierce, mullet-heavy set. Their off-kilter brand of indie rock is quickly paced, tongue-in-cheek and every bit as jagged as a Gang of Four record. The crowd were smitten with the coiling bass line of Ad Blue, and even more so with the suburbia-inspired wailings of flagship song English Weather. Frontman George Haverson frequently locked eyes with me and it genuinely seemed possible that any second his tambourine might well be lobbed at my head. There was an intimidating glimmer in his eye – perhaps the sign of an indie rock frontman ready to challenge the mantle currently held by Sports Team’s Alex Rice. We’ll see. Oh when it’s over / Ah your mother said Grass stains on your trainers / And sweat marks on your bed Well the pavement’s too hot for your pet dog Pasty people in the park with their tops off (English Weather – Feet) Kevin Parker – the 36-year-old singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist behind Tame Impala – must’ve been under a lot of pressure when it came to headlining the evening. Thousands of people flock towards the main stage, a visceral sense of excitement surging throughout Victoria Park’s heady evening haze. Fashionable Londoners move in a swarm of flares, oversized shirts and cut-out dresses, discussing all the possibilities of the performance ahead. It’s an atmosphere that could only lead to one of two things – a triumphant celebration, or a bumbling disappointment. But, armed with a well-rehearsed band, four LP’s worth of beloved music and a gargantuan light system that could cut the power supply off from the whole of Hackney, Tame Impala do all they can to ensure that the evening results in the first option. Taking into consideration Kevin Parker’s constant tendency (or perhaps even need) to explore new sounds and styles, it makes perfect sense for Tame Impala’s set to open in an unexpected way. Instead of the psychedelia of transitional tracks of Nangs or Gossip (at least that’s how I assumed the band might foreshadow their walk onto the All Points East main stage), a clip is shown of a doctor advertising the fictional drug ‘Rushium’ – a substance told to alter its user’s perception of time. The doctor outlines the effects of the drug as the speed and quality of the footage grinds to a trembling, distorted halt. A screen-wide smile shifts into something unsettling – a kind of clinical Cheshire Cat – as the wall of noise transitions into the opening sounds of One More Year. We’re on a rollercoaster stuck on its loop-de-loop ‘Cause what we did one day on a whim Has slowly become all we do (One More Year – Tame Impala) One More Year acts as a wonderful, trance-like ushering into the world of Tame Impala on multiple levels. Yes, the song’s rich musical texture (notably made up of oozing dub bass, subtle Nile Rodgers-esque guitar and an intoxicating vocal loop) establishes the group’s live sound to be immediately engaging and explorative, but it also provides a thematic benchmark for the rest of the concert. Although Tame Impala’s albums are certainly focused on their own individual topics, the one thing that flows through them all is the consideration of time – or more specifically, how the passing of time affects relationships, identity and the general human experience. Even breakup album (and fan favourite) Currents seems to be, upon closer inspection, an album about a relationship at the mercy of time – how people inevitably wear and change, but then seemingly by the end of the album’s runtime, also manage to heal and come to terms with said change. The prog-rock of sophomore album Lonerism is too marked with temporal anxieties, Kevin Parker seemingly caught in a strange period of existential waiting. Tame Impala’s fourth, and latest, album takes this thematic exploration to the forefront – songs Borderline and Lost in Yesterday for example provide different rumination on the passing of time (and our perception of such), all seductively coated in an immensely enjoyable dance-pop sound. The All Points East crowd ecstatically gather together to get lost in a time-warping show, shuffling to the acid-house-inspired squelch of Breathe Deeper. I reckon Daft Punk would be proud of that song’s outro… impressive for a rock band. When we were livin’ in squalor, wasn’t it heaven? Back when we used to get on it four out of seven Now even though that was a time I hated from day one Eventually terrible memories turn into great ones (Lost in Yesterday – Tame Impala) The group’s sound is, for lack of better words, huge. Although at times the layers of noise can get muddy (I imagine this is more an issue with festival sound rigs rather than Tame Impala), the sheer scale of the sound that Kevin Parker and co. create always remains colossal, best exemplified with the marching bass line of Beatles-tinted classic Elephant – the bass line being a formidable foundation over which layers of synthesiser can gleefully glide. However, it is absolutely essential that I write about the lighting/visuals present at the show. David Lynskey put it best when he wrote for The Guardian that Tame Impala’s live show is a ‘multi sensory happening’. While this phrase may sound a little pretentious, Lynskey’s words do perfectly describe the fusion of sound and visuals that Tame Impala conjured up for their performance. The aforementioned track Elephant was already neo-prog-rock at its most catchy and least infuriating, but it is elevated to another level of psychedelic ecstasy when paired with the elaborate – and dazzling – use of lighting. As the guitars and keyboards spiral in a cacophony of evident Pink Floyd influence, a prism-block of white and green light bursts over head. It’s an electrifying moment – a rare instance of a crowd unsure whether to cheer for the musicians or the lighting crew. However, not all songs are elevated in the same way; there are undoubtedly moments in the set where the elaborate visual aspects, including an UFO-esque ring of light and smoke spinning above the band, actually diverts attention away from the music in a hindering fashion. Phones are frequently raised to film the unique lighting designs, instead of the performance. Kevin Parker’s on-stage persona, while admittedly already humble and unassuming, often seems dwarfed by the swirling array of visual splendour. Having a visual show as good as Tame Impala’s is a double-edged sword. Sure, it’s unique, and even at times transcendent, but when it starts to overshadow the music, it becomes an issue. Though, arcing back to Lynskey’s words, when viewing it as a ‘multi sensory happening’ rather than simply a gig, whether this is an issue or not becomes entirely subjective. The show goes leaps and bounds to stimulate the ears and stimulate the eyes… just sometimes one more than the other. Finally taking flight / I know that you don’t think it’s right I know that you think it’s fake / Maybe fake’s what I like (New Person, Same Old Mistakes – Tame Impala) A highlight of the set proves to be emotional tour-de-force Eventually, the stage lighting up in purple as the melancholy synth washes ring out. Perhaps it’s my sixth-form-wannabe-muso nostalgia speaking, but the heartbreak behind the lyric is more evident and concrete than ever when sung by a crowd of strangers. Verse lyrics ‘wish I could turn you back into a stranger/ ‘cause if you were never in my life, you wouldn’t have to change it’ in particular are enough to cut deep into a listener like a knife. Hands sway in loving empathy, and tears are subtly wiped away. It’s a life-affirming moment in which thousands of people appreciate a songwriter’s craft; a collective, understanding ode to the guilt and frustration of outgrowing a relationship. The light rig and array of sound may both be ambitiously out-of-this world, but Kevin Parker’s lyricism grounds the performance with glimpses of vulnerability. Tame Impala’s All Points East performance was many things, but – luckily – at its core, it was human. Set List One More Year Borderline Nangs Breathe Deeper Love/Paranoia Elephant Lost in Yesterday Apocalypse Dreams Gossip Let It Happen Feels Like We Only Go Backwards Eventually Runway, Houses, City, Clouds The Less I Know The Better New Person, Same Old Mistakes Special thanks to Reece Bulleyment (for tube navigation) and to Joanne Horn (for accommodation assistance).