Australian psychedelic rockers Tame Impala released their third album, Currents, nearly a year ago, and the album marked an evolution in their sound. Much more synth-based than its predecessors, the album met with critical acclaim and increased the band’s popularity. This could be seen in the DC area simply by the shift upward in venues – when the band last came to the city, a month before the album’s release, they headlined the Echostage. This time, on their return, they took over Merriweather Post Pavilion for a rainy Thursday evening show, their biggest headlining gig in the area so far. Even the threat of severe thunderstorms couldn’t dampen the spirit of the crowd.
Fortunately, as the band’s stature has grown, so has the confidence of bandleader Kevin Parker. When the band played their earliest shows in the District six years ago at the Black Cat, Parker had seemed ready to melt away behind the microphone at any moment, an ephemeral presence barely there behind the swirling guitars. At Merriweather in 2016, though, he owned the stage. The band has been getting their practice in playing even bigger festival sets – they headlined one of the largest stages at the Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona earlier this month, and also at the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware the weekend after this show, amongst others – so it was little surprise that the pavilion was no sweat
The band opened with the brief instrumental track “Nangs,” and then phased right into “Let It Happen,” the lead single from Currents. Yet anyone hoping for older material was far from disappointed, as the next tracks up were “Mind Mischief” from 2012’s Lonerism and “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?” from the band’s 2010 debut Innerspeaker. The set continued like this, alternating between older fan favorites like “Elephant,” “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” and “It Is Not Meant to Be,” and newer songs like “Eventually,” “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” and “Yes I’m Changing.” Anyone hoping for a hint of where the band is headed next, though, may have been disappointed – the only non-album tracks the band played were “Oscilly,” an instrumental that they have been performing for several years now, and a cover of Mark Ronson’s “Daffodils.”
French electronica act M83 hasn’t been touring with Tame Impala, but their schedules lined up to coincide for their DC date, resulting in the band playing an co-headlining set for the show. Though the band is touring behind a new album, the recently-released Junk, they only played a few tracks from it, instead drawing a large portion of their set from 2011’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.
Norwegian singer-songwriter Okay Kaya opened the show.