Tame Impala, a psychedelic rock band from Perth, Australia, headlined two sold-out shows this week at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. But as far as I was concerned (and I suspect the same is true for a lot of the people who attended these concerts), they were double-headliner gigs. I wanted to see Tame Impala, but I was even more interested in catching the first Chicago performance by Yuck, a London band getting a lot of buzz lately in indie-rock circles.
Yuck’s self-titled debut album is one of the year’s best records so far, and the songs sounded strong in concert Tuesday (May 3). Yuck’s tunes have some lovely, high-ranging vocals that remind me of power pop by the likes of Teenage Fanclub, but there’s a lot of crunchy guitar, too, with touches of Sonic Youth at its poppiest and a bit of the loopiness of Pavement. Yuck’s songs have some terrific guitar melodies — those bent notes — on top of the chords.
Tame Impala’s 2010 album, InnerSpeaker, didn’t completely win me over. It’s a pleasant listen, but the songs came off better in concert, where there repetitive grooves got at least some of the crowd dancing. Or, well, swaying. Tame Impala plays psychedelic music of the hypnotic riff variety — lots of reverb and lots of those effects that make the chords sound like they’re slowly circling in and out of focus. As the band played, a screen showed live video from a camera pointed at an oscilloscope screen, and the music caused green lines to squiggle in circular shapes. But you really didn’t need that projection to visualize the music looping back on itself over and over again. Groovy stuff.
The evening started out with another “Y” band — Chicago’s Yawn — playing a set of upbeat indie pop that reminded me of Vampire Weekend.