King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have some name, the best description I’ve heard for their music being ‘psych-punk acid-folk’ because psychedelic just doesn’t cut it. In 2017 they took on the challenge of releasing five albums in one year, focusing on the likes of jazz, prog, microtones, and spoken word, every album receiving critical acclaim.
Support came in the form of Sketches of Brunswick East collaborators Mild High Club. The psychedelic-jazz troop played a relaxingly mesmerising set for the most part. It was filled with glittery reverb-laden guitars, swirling keys, and hypnotic rhythms developing into funky solos. As chill and relevant to King Gizzard as they were, they were possibly too much of a contrast to the main act.
King Gizzard though, were rip-roaring from start to finish, with only a few moments to catch your breath. The first few numbers saw work off Murder of the Universe with psych-metal tracks like ‘Digital Black’ and ‘The Lord of Lightning’. Frontman Stu Mackenzie was wildly shaking with energy, tongue spitting, throwing his guitar into speakers to get feedback.
Next were tracks from Flying Microtonal Banana mixed with Gumboot Soup/ Sketches of Brunswick East. These pieces saw Stu whip out The Flying Banana to release microtonal goodness. ‘Nuclear Fusion’ had the crowd humming along to ‘do do dododo dododo dodo do dodo’ and swaying away to one of the more hypnotically relaxing moments of the night while next track ‘All Is Known’ saw the psych cranked into overdrive while guitars attacked over a relentless drumbeat.
Tracks drifted into one another impressively, with little direct interaction with the crowd but that was easily overshadowed by the massive wave of control emanating from the band and the fluidity of the setlist. A standout track due to how quirky it was, even for King Gizzard, was ‘The Book’. Stu assumed Ambrose’s spot at the keys for this tune, creating some 70’s soundtrack-esque rhythms.
One of the songs that got a ton of crowd support was ‘Rattlesnake’. The unrelenting rocker saw the entire crowd yell the lyrics with the band; ‘Rattlesnake! Rattlesnake! Rattlesnake!’. Just like many other numbers during the set, it was too easy to be swept away by this track thanks to the band’s music effectively acting as the hypnotising sway of the rattlesnake.
Next the band ventured into a Polygondwanaland suite consisting of ‘Polygondwanaland’, ‘Crumbling Castle’, and ‘The Fourth Colour’. These tracks were the most proggy of the night, with ‘Crumbling Castle’ being an unstoppable force to be reckoned with, making the most of the three guitarists and two drummers. ‘The Fourth Colour’ ended the set with a malfunctioning carousel-like guitar riff.
The best section of the night however had to be when the flood gates opened and the band entered the absolutely class Nonagon Infinity set. ‘Robot Stop’, ‘Big Fig Wasp’, and ‘Gamma Knife’ brought out pure frantic chaos in the crowd as at least 4 people began crowdsurfing and the mosh pit, which had been going for a while now, had went pleasantly mental. It was nice to see though that when a moshman fell the crowd would stop and collectively lift them up, a thoroughly wholesome mosh experience enhanced with exceptionally crafted psych-rock.
The night was finished with tracks off Quarters!; ‘The River’ and ‘God is in the Rhythm’. These tracks took a more relaxing psych-jazz route which while still being great, didn’t quite live up to the madness of the previous few tracks. Unfortunately it did feel as though the concert ended by fizzling out rather than exploding. After the final track the crowd made a very loud argument for one more tune, but no more tunes were had.
Overall the gig was honestly one of the best shows I’ve had the pleasure of seeing, with the band seeping cool energy and confidence. There was even a wonderful projector spilling fittingly abstract imagery onto a gargantuan cloth at the back of the stage. From start to finish they captured the crowd with whatever atmosphere they wanted to create and it was impossible not to move along with whatever rhythm was laid down. They’ve effectively created another dedicated fan.