Tame Impala and Delicate Steve's six date mini-tour ended in the Bay Area this weekend, after shows in NYC, LA and Las Vegas. The tour concluded with a stop at Fox Theater in Oakland which included back-to-back nights after an initial Saturday night sell-out.
New Jersey's Delicate Steve arrived on stage and jumped right into their set. If you're not familiar with Delicate Steve, I'd advise checking out their 2011 Wondervisions and 2012 Positive Force albums. We'll be running a full feature on Delicate Steve next week. However, amazingly, Tame Impala randomly picked Steve's record up in a store, had a listen, and decided Delicate Steve needed to open for Tame Impala on this stretch.
If you have been a fan of Delicate Steve, this is a pretty amazing transition to watch. A number of us at Apes on Tape stumbled onto Delicate Steve at Treefort Fest 2012. Steve has ridden the excellence of Positive Force since then, continuing to tour nationally. It was interesting to compare his last headling tour through the Bay at SF's Rickshaw Stop to this opening show at the much larger Fox. Obviously, those are different situations. But at the former, you have fans who know Delicate Steve's material well and enjoy it, recognizing most of the tracks. Also, that venue is smaller and more conducive to the all out dance party that show became.
At the Fox, the lower bowl was about half full for Steve's set. The band adjusted well to the much larger space and put on an excellent show, with a healthy mix of Wondervisions and Positive Force material that concluded with "Butterfly". I took note of the comments a few patrons made, who were new to Delicate Steve:
- "It sounds like 1988. It's like 80's psychedelic rock. Except with a lot more Bali"
- "This sounds like a Fourth of July BBQ"
- "This reminds me of the guitar on John Mayer's Continuum"
- "I don't know what it is....but this just satisfies something at the core of me"
- "This guy is really going for it"
Inevitably, I'm comparing this weekend's Tame Impala show to the number of times I've been able to see them through the Lonerism album cycle. They debuted many of the tracks to Outside Lands in August 2012 just before they dropped that gem of an album on the world in October of that fall. Their first show at SF's historic Fillmore in November 2012 was magic and caught them taking off. By the time they made their way back to the Bay in May 2013, they were a very well-oiled machine in Fox Theater. Approximately a year ago, they shredded SF's 7,000 capacity Bill Graham Auditorium and snuck across to Oakland for an extremely intimate set at Uptown in Oakland.
Long story short, the mileage Tame Impala has yielded from Lonerism is a testament to both the longevity and quality of the album. An electronic remix of The Lion King's "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" played as the rock lords took the stage. Kevin Parker blew kisses to the crowd as they savored the moment and began with "Be Above It". Nick Allbrook, of Pond, departed the band's bass player role last spring and Cam Avery took on the responsibilities by the time I saw them at Uptown. Yet the set was still slick. The continuity grooves, within and between songs, were as polished as ever. You could've mistaken that cohesive, persistent sound for a house show at times. The work of two years on the road was clearly displayed. Tame Impala simply had no problem filling the theater's space in the headline role.
The band alternated between Innerspeaker classics and Lonerism standouts. And they also included live staple "Half Full Glass of Wine" from the self-titled EP. All of the intros and transitions were just spot on. It's a polished set by this point. At times, I pined for the urgency and virgin glee that shone through Tame Impala when Lonerism first took off. It's safe to say this is now a professional affair for Kevin Parker and Co, where it may have been long-time buddies from Perth riding whatever waves arrived in 2012. Fittingly, in those earlier sets, Kevin was more timed and they might've brought one beer on stage. Now, he's blowing kisses and they're safe hauling out a few cold ones and a shot for good measure. They've undoubtedly mastered their live set and know to handle their newfound role.
With their encore, they began with what Kevin called "Julien's kick drum explosion"--an experimental light show coordinated with the drums. As they jumped into "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards", they botched the opening vocals but cheerfully laughed it off and continued on. "Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control" felt like a fitting closing number as they finished up this mini-tour with two packed nights in Oakland.
Tame Impala at Fox Theater Set List
Be Above It Solitude Is Bliss Sestri Levanti Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind It's Not Meant To Be Why Won't They Talk To Me Elephant Endors Toi Mind Mischief Half Full Glass of Wine Alter Ego Apocalypse Dreams //Encore// Julian "Kick Drum Explosion" Feels Like We Only Go Backwards Nothing That Has Happened So Far...