One Year Later… March 10-11, 2020: Tame Impala Rocks Forum As Shutdown Looms

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– One More Year
Tame Impala performs at the Forum on March, 10, 2020, in one of the final arena gigs before the pandemic-induced live music shutdown.

When Tame Impala arrived at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on March 10, 2020, after a successful tour kickoff the previous night in San Diego, the Australian psych-rockers weren’t particularly engaged with the looming coronavirus pandemic.

The March 10 Forum gig was the first of two sold-out shows at the Southern California arena, and the second stop of Tame Impala’s first-ever arena tour – in other words, Tame Impala had been a little busy.

“We’d started hearing rumors about this virus that was going around,” manager Jodie Regan told Pollstar. “Our ears were perking up about this stuff, but we were still all so deep in the show.”

“Everybody’s walking around, it was pre-mask,” recalled CAA agent Kevin French, who represents Tame Impala. “People were starting to say, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t shake hands.’ … Night one [at the Forum] was like, ‘Alright, things are getting scary, but we’re going to be OK. We’ll get these shows in and hopefully this thing dies down.’”

But the situation was rapidly evolving. By the time Tame Impala left the Forum after the March 10 show, it wasn’t sure if it would be back the following night.

“We were almost expecting that we might not be able to play that second Forum,” Regan said. “Everyone was scared.”

Tame Impala did ultimately return March 11, completing a run that moved 25,986 tickets and grossed $1.82 million. But with the coronavirus crisis escalating in severity, the gig felt less like a celebration than a wake.

“It was a weird mood,” Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker told Pollstar. “No one knew what the hell was going on.”

Backstage, pandemonium was unfolding. Earlier that day, San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued a ban on events of more than 1,000 people – and Tame Impala’s next stop was that city’s Chase Center on March 13.

“[French] came to us before the show and was like, ‘OK, we’re gonna have to cancel San Francisco,’” Regan said. “We suddenly all got very serious.”

“Night two, everything just felt different,” French said. “It just really felt like, ‘OK, this is real. I don’t know if we’re going to be playing the rest of the shows next week.’”

As Tame Impala played, more news rolled in. It wasn’t just Breed. California Gov. Gavin Newsom was issuing an executive order urging the cancellation of gatherings with more than 250 people.

“I remember sitting backstage at the Forum watching the news with the promoters going, ‘Fuck! They’re shutting down the world as of tomorrow,’” French said. “That decision was made for us. We didn’t get to make a decision, luckily, because that would’ve been a tough call, if you go and play or not.”

With so much still uncertain about the coronavirus – how it spread, what its symptoms were, how severe it could be – a sizable amount of fear accompanied the Tame Impala team’s frustration.

“Because one of our guys had a cough, we had a doctor come in and check everyone’s temperatures,” Regan said. “God, it was such a whirlwind.”

Though the Forum would host one final show with fans – Prince Royce on March 12 – its programming was soon offline. And with dates booked at Mexico City’s Foro Sol stadium and Monterrey’s Tecate Pa’l Norte festival the following week, Regan, French and others in Tame Impala’s orbit convened to determine the tour’s fate.

“None of us really knew what was going on,” said Regan, citing incomplete Mexican reporting of coronavirus cases early on. “People were scared to go down there. Once cities started shutting down it was like, ‘OK, this virus is everywhere.’”

Not only would continued touring have jeopardized the health of Tame Impala’s crew, comprised of about 70 people, but with borders closing around the world, visiting Mexico could’ve stranded personnel far from home. Tame Impala pulled the plug.

“Every 24 hours that passed, it became more obvious,” Parker said. “Every day that passed, the gravity of the situation got greater. … There was never this devastation that the tour was called off. By the time we did, it was clearly the right thing to do.”

Earlier this month, as the one-year anniversary of Tame Impala’s final pre-pandemic show neared, the band returned to the stage with two sold-out shows at Metro City Concert Club in its native Perth, Australia, on March 5 and 6. Parker performed reimagined Tame Impala songs with two bandmates – and an array of synthesizers, drum machines and other electronic equipment, in place of the band’s traditional guitars and drum kit – as Tame Impala Sound System.

Parker’s Instagram post after the gigs was simple: “Grateful for what we get to do in Perth.”