CONCERTS: Tame Impala Takes The Hollywood Bowl

No “Rushium” was needed to enjoy the Australian modern rock greats’ two-night stand at the iconic Los Angeles venue

Tame Impala played the world famous Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Election Day 2021 (Image: Tame Impala)
Tame Impala played the world famous Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Election Day 2021 (Image: Tame Impala)

There is a giant clear bottle of “Rushium” positioned in the entrance plaza of the Hollywood Bowl for Tame Impala’s two nights at the famed venue.

Besides being an Instagram photo opp, this overwhelming structure sets concertgoers in the right mind-altered state Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker needs them to be in to truly become absorbed in the performance. 

Rushium is, of course, a play on the title of Tame Impala’s last album, The Slow Rush. For many in attendance, the final concert they saw before the first lockdown of last year was one of the Tame Impala performances at The Forum in March 2020 in support of The Slow Rush. This factor added an emotional element to the Hollywood Bowl experience, amplified by the multitude of light and laser projectors filling the stage and the huge light ring that sits above the stage like a UFO—the same exact set up as The Forum. 

Tame Impala Slow Rush Tour poster (Image: Tame Impala)

The show is introduced by a beaming lady from AionWell, the fictitious company that manufactures Rushium, which is in its “V.1 clinical trial.” Projected onto the backdrop, she explained the Rushium trial and what the expected results of taking it will be. The more she spoke, the hazier she became and the more distorted her voice became until whether you took Rushium or not, you felt like maybe you got its effects by proxy.

The whole show was fueled by the forced psychedelia that underscored and overrode the evening. This was apparent in the swirly and saturated visuals, in the stupendous laser show and the award-winning light show. Even when the musicians were projected onto the Bowl’s huge video screens, the psychedelic treatment was in place going from trippy renditions of them to vintage to surrealist color splashes.

Parker stepped on the stage donned in a sequined disco jacket, a more glamourous presentation than was expected from the low-key artist who is more hippie than he is hip. But his hand-in-pocket stance and casual delivery of “One More Year” was a little too mellow for the frantically up-for-it crowd which was so primed for a bombastic show. 

What Parker lacked in dynamics, his lasers made up for in their majesty. Shining from the top of the Bowl’s band shell to the top of the last row, the effects were amazing and far more engaging than anything happening on stage. 

The song that really made the audience go bonkers and had the bartenders dancing in sync was “Elephant” from 2012’s Lonerism. The tribal stomps of percussion were accompanied by such a roar from the crowd, even Parker had to get caught up in it—despite the fact that he had shed the disco jacket and was clutching a Solo cup for the rest of the show, like he was mingling at a party and not tasked with entertaining 17,000 fans. 



Still, the build-up to “Let it Happen” from the monster Tame Impala album, Currents, was so big–with a rapidly blinking eye visual revving up the energy and a confetti explosion (the first of two)–that Parker had to get into it. 

The giant magic light ring that hovers over the stage is singlehandedly responsible for so much of the excitement of a Tame Impala show, which is nothing, if not colorful. A spiderweb of jewel-toned lasers created even more gorgeous displays during “Eventually.” A Doors tribute jam was embedded into “Keep on Lying” leading into the break before the encore with “New Person.”

At this point, the audience outdid Tame Impala with an ocean of phone lights dotting the darkened evening, bringing the stars into the Hollywood Bowl. No Rushium was needed to feel the emotional effects of that. Clearly Tame Impala is more lights and cameras than action.

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Lily Moayeri

Lily Moayeri has been a freelance journalist since 1992. She has contributed to numerous publications including Billboard, NPR, Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, Variety, Spin, Los Angeles Magazine, A.V. Club, and more. Lily hosts the Pictures of Lily Podcast, a bi-weekly podcast about her interviewing experiences. She has participated as moderator and panelist at numerous music conferences. She has also served as a teacher librarian since 2004 focusing on guiding students in navigating the intersection of technology and education.

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