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(Credit: Abby Gilliardi)

Music

Tame Impala's Kevin Parker on his favourite concerts

@SamWKemp

If you were to ask a group of music fans to name one of modern music’s key innovators, I bet 90% of them would say “Kevin Parker”. The Tame Impala creator turned sultry disco producer helped redefine psychedelia for an entire generation, pushing the genre into a bright new age and helping to establish Australia as a modern musical mecca. Here, Parker opens up about the first gig he ever attended, some of the concerts that shaped him as a musician, and his favourite show of all time.

Speaking to iD back in 2016, at which time Tame Impala were undoubtedly the biggest band in the world, Parker recalled his very first gig experience. Unsurprisingly, it featured guitars. “The first real gig was a White Stripes concert. It was an over-18s concert, and I was in high school, so I borrowed my brother’s ID — he has naturally blonde hair and I have brown hair! The tickets were about 75 bucks — I spent all my money and I didn’t even know if I was going to get in.”

It’s a classic tale of teenage determination and, as it transpires, reckless abandon: “It was on the night before my Ancient History year 12 exam, but I was like, fuck it, I’m going, I’m not missing this! All the odds and reasons were against me, but I got in and it was amazing, I couldn’t believe it. It was pretty life-changing. I’d been to gigs, you know, but not real rock and roll shows.”

That early experience introduced Parker to a whole world of fuzz-drenched guitars that he would later step into on tracks like ‘Elephant’. When it came to his own musical ambitions, however, it was grunge that set the ball rolling. “I’m not sure it was even a show that made me want to be a musician,” he began. “It was probably the first time I heard grunge music. I had a Silverchair video, on VCR, that I watched religiously when I was a kid. It wasn’t even a super high production live release, it was just following them on tour, like, seeing how much sweat they’ve got on their shirt backstage.”

Parker then went on to discuss the best show he ever attended: A Flaming Lips concert in Japan. The Oklahoma psych provocateurs are known for putting on a brilliant show, and from Parker’s memories of the gig, it seems didn’t disappoint. “I happened to be on acid at the time,” he began, “which I don’t usually do for gigs because everything is way more intense. I’d never seen or even knew much about the Flaming Lips before that, so I was like, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll check this band out,’ trying to keep it together, so naively. I knew people came out in costumes, like big teddy bears, but ten seconds into their intro I was absolutely in pieces. It’s still such a big influence on me today.

I feel like every time I try to think of something that’s going to affect people, my mind instantly goes back to that time.”