Throbbing with luminescent green and pink, Citadel’s headliners delivered a sun-kissed psych-fest.
Taking place amongst the scorched, already-trodden grasses of Gunnersbury Park
after two days of hip-hop, R&B and grime at Lovebox
is the phoenix rising from the ashes. A busy one-dayer - boasting a stellar line-up, with Aussie psych-rockers Tame Impala
as the cherry on top of the cake.
They’re a household name; shooting to fame with their progressive prodigy ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ back in 2012, and they certainly brought the crowds out in their hundreds. The main event of the festival, swathes of music fans shed items of clothing and squinted through their sweaty brows in the blazing 30-degree heat to watch Tame Impala put the sun down for its daily nap.
Those who were hoping for new material from the down-to-earth Aussies were sorely disappointed, but I get the feeling there weren’t too many of them. Their set list is essentially the same one that they took on the UK tour after releasing their third album Currents
, despite having dabbled in collaborative projects with the likes of Mark Ronson and Kanye West. Nevertheless, beefy opener ‘Let It Happen’ accompanied by canons of (perhaps a little premature) multi-coloured confetti and swimming lasers, went down an absolute treat. Accompanied by potent visuals that felt like the love child of Rick N’ Morty and Depeche Mode - Tame Impala made an impact from the get-go.
But not all fans felt the same. “It’s very quiet, and a bit flat” I overheard one member of the crowd mutter to their friend. While my being able to hear their mutters certainly attests to the waning volume levels, flecks of clear-cut drums slowly increased in volume at the climax of their set opener. It was a surprisingly divisive start for the psych-rockers, which saw handfuls of small groups scuttling out to the main exit.
Fear not, ‘Sundown Syndrome’ was apt for our uncharacteristic summer glory, and ‘The Moment’ livened the spirits of the crowd. For a brief moment, we were all invited in to share in lead singer Kevin Parker’s strangling love affair with his own emotions. The clarity of each synth note was a marvellous feat, each one crisper than the last, as Dominic Simper tinkered to the right of the stage. Not only a testament to Tame’s refined production, but also Citadel’s hefty speaker set-up.
Tame Impala, don't tend to visually rock-out on stage but their sound acts as a euphoric embrace which teeters on the edge of a head-thrashing rock show and an intimidatingly cool French discotheque. Mid-set, Kevin has the crowd under his thumb for ‘The Less I Know The Better’ and ‘Yes I’m Changing’. In a seismic shift, Tame Impala show their strengths across genres with raggedy, guitar-heavy tracks like ‘Mind Mischief’.
All the meanwhile, popping visuals have the crowd googly-eyed and itching for an explanation. Deep oranges were offset by thick, black waves and the shadows of the band on stage. Their use of lasers and flashing strobes lit up the softening summer evening sky and made it extremely clear that light shows have their place on festival stages. Particularly if they’re accompanied by Tame Impala’s progressive and all-encompassing groove. The set was rounded off by ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ and ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’, ushering an exuberant crowd into a fuzzy, cosmic state.
Despite taking a little while to fully ignite the souls of their crowd, Tame Impala gave a performance that, not only served as a reminder of just how deliciously complex their sound really is, but also how the intelligent use of phasing, reverbs and delicate fuzz can translate effectively from record to stage. While we bid farewell to the worldly success of Currents
, we look in earnest to a future with more lush lyricism and impressive festival headline acts.
Photo credit: Citadel