words: Sarah Rix // photos: Josh Braybook @josh.braybook
“I now regard King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard as a band capable of literally knocking me off my feet.”
Full disclaimer: I ended up on the floor at the King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard show. No, it wasn’t a crowd surf gone wrong. I wasn’t flinging myself about wildly in the very active mosh pit to the Melbourne septet’s dulcet psychedelia. I was well behaved! I had even dutifully taken my iron supplement earlier in the day!
But there I was, waking up in a cold sweat to a polite (albeit slightly confused) man trying to help my partner pull my crumpled legs out from underneath me.
All that is to say: I now regard King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard as a band capable of literally knocking me off my feet.
Opening the night were Collingwood locals Bitch Diesel. They soon shed their black cloaks for spandex, sparkles and pleather – the three-piece appearing more than ready to take on the bigger stages that undoubtedly await them, both in Australia and further abroad.
Next up was Mildlife, a Melbourne five-piece making the sort of music that can transport its listeners to a beautiful summer day in the middle of a grassy field. Okay, I’m being wistful – but this is perfect festival-going music. Part endless odyssey, part improvisational jam session, plus a whole lot of knee-bending, hip-shaking dance steps.
The tropical inflections on their opening track and, later, their use of hypnotic basslines, carefully placed flute, and synthetic melody lines all cumulated in a final, extra-long rendition of “The Magnificent Moon” from 2017’s Phase, boasting all the makings of a hit: namely a sing-able guitar hook and vocal delivery not unlike what you might hear on a Grizzly Bear single.
My King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard experience was kept woefully short, on account of the whole aforementioned passing out thing. Even still, the seven songs I was able to witness were reminders of the band’s power: each of its seven members perfectly synced with each other to create a multi-headed goliath, emanating a screeching wall-of-sound.
Kicking of their tour with a slightly subdued Thursday night show at The Forum (they play again Friday, this time to a sold-out crowd), the band kept the talking to a minimum.
Lead vocalist Stu Mackenzie stopped just once to tell the audience, “This is a privilege and a pleasure to play this beautiful venue, in our city, in front of our friends.”
Rather than banter their way between songs, they instead opted for cuts from upcoming release Infest the Rats’ Nests and April’s Fishing For Fishies. I’d argue their newer material leans more toward the Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner fronting a metal band – but the thing about King Gizz is that they put out so much material (14 to date since 2012, with Rats’ Nests due out in August), you just have to give them a song and they’ve somehow transitioned into a different style. A little something for everyone, really. And, if anything, the double drumming and guitar solos will keep you entertained.
So, while I found a track like 2019’s “Planet B” a little less palatable than I’m used to from King Gizzard, “Plastic Boogie” brought me back into the show and “Rattlesnake”, from 2017’s Flying Microtonal Banana, kept me there. The 70s psychedelia of “Robot Stop” played well, too, as did “This Thing” with its “Quentin Tarantino shooting a diner scene” approachability.
Alas, that’s all I took from the band before my body gave up on me. Short and sweet isn’t how you’d normally describe a King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard show, but I probably ended up just as sweaty as those throwing themselves around in the mosh pit so I’ll call it even.
Also, and as an aside, a very kind shout out to the medic and security guard at The Forum who came to my rescue after I hit the deck a second time. Low blood pressure is no joke, team!