King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard at The Forum Theatre, Melbourne, June 27 2019.
Following a secret warmup show of sorts at Howler last night, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard officially launched their Australian tour with aplomb yesterday evening.
From the millisecond the band’s intro tape of Bob Marley’s Jamming kicks in to the instant illumination of house lights at set’s close – signalling that there will be no encore, they’re way too cool for those – King Gizz absolutely rule. In the semi-darkness, one of the seven bandmembers acknowledges how lucky his band feels to play this venue in their home city (the first of two back-to-back, sold-out shows), and then they’re off.
The first thing that hits us is the double drumming – do Michael Cavanagh and Eric Moore actually share a pulse? They’re not even facing one another this time around, either. Stu Mackenzie tells us King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard will play some “new songs” this evening, and we’re tipping he means NEW new – as in, from their forthcoming 15th album, Infest The Rats’ Nest (scheduled for release August 16) – because material from the band’s 14th album Fishing For Fishies (released late April) must feel ‘so yesterday’ from this prolific band’s perspective.
Yep, a trio of Infest The Rats’ Nest tracks – Venusian 2, Mars For The Rich and Planet B – open the show. Planet B (“There is no Planet B/ Open your eyes and see!”) is heavy-AF thrash metal and we’re all for it.
Considering King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s upcoming album was recorded by a scaled-back three-piece line-up comprising Mackenzie, Joey Walker (guitar and bass) and Cavanagh – while Ambrose Kenny-Smith and Cook Craig toured internationally with their other band The Murlocs, Moore took care of Flightless Records business and bassist Lucas Skinner took some time out to enjoy being a dad – the tightness of these beefed-up arrangements is simply awe-inspiring; live, it’s as if they’re all plugged into the same socket.
The genre-soup we experience throughout the setlist is enough to give you whiplash, but miraculously never jars. Plastic Boogie (from Fishing For Fishies) makes us all pogo sporadically while we boogie, Kenny-Smith’s excellent harmonica playing splashing more juice on the already loose vibe. Rattlesnake sees punters racing towards the front to get involved (a bucketlist mosh experience!) and when Mackenzie’s vocal melody echoes Kenny-Smith’s harmonica line we feel like we’re being simultaneously hypnotised and brainwashed – it’s nuts! The visual effects that play out behind the band are also incredible, as King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard footage is thrown up on the giant screen, replicating what’s happening on stage tenfold in a pyramid shape.
There’s funk and feel within doubled-up, T. Rek-inspired drum beats during “D-d-d-d-doom City”. Just how Walker manages to replicate the demonic incantations that open Nuclear Fusion live is beyond me! And as if King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are not already versatile enough instrumentally, they also have a choice of three outstanding vocalists that boast vastly different singing styles yet somehow manage to harmonise in swoon-worthy fashion. Can you tell we’re gobsmacked by their brilliance yet!?
A boogie-woogie Fishing For Fishies cut follows: This Thing, which calls to mind Elephant by the mighty Tame Impala. During Beginner’s Luck, Mackenzie channels Alex Turner suave. “Alright, one more old song,” Mackenzie announces. A fan hollers out his request for Gamma Knife, but let’s face it: given the breadth of Gizz’s back catalogue and their propensity toward favouring brand new material in the live setting, what are the odds? We score The Balrog (“Nonagon infinity opens the door” – some of their lyrics sure are tongue twisters). They play perfectly in sync, even when stoner audience clap-alongs are hectically out of time – Loyalty‘s showoff time signature is perfectly handled.
“Let’s get lit!” Walker drops a hint about what’s next as punters recognise the galloping drums that open Self-Immolate (which dropped back in May), and bolt down the stairs to join the circle-pit. The band’s screamo vocals are insane! Dense, quadruple riffs send the mosh – which now resembles the inside of a washing machine, fitted with super-speed technology – postal! Discarded shoes and boots fly from one side of GA to the other. Then enter the terror of King Gizzard’s latest single Organ Farmer (“blood minestrone”? UGH!) and Perihelion (yet another track from the band’s upcoming record). After their “last song” is introduced, we feel like we’ve stumbled into the Star Wars cantina scene when the irresistibly funky, Gorillaz-esque Cyboogie is ushered in. The crowd morphs from violent wall-of-death into calm sea of heads, bopping in unison.
From shades of Miami Vice-esque ‘80s TV show themesong to unintelligible prog brilliance, this seven-headed musical beast equates to limitless possibilities live. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are a shoo-in to bring home gold medals in every genre of The Live Band Olympics.