Not many bands on the planet can match the creative intensity, work ethic and sheer energy that is Melbourne pyschedelic force King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard.
In just six years the band have released a staggering 8 albums, with their 2016 release Nonagon Infinity cementing their place as one of the worlds most exciting up and comers and a further three albums to come in the next year alone.
It was a no-brainer therefore to sacrifice one’s personal comfort and brave the wet, cold Sydney weather to catch the band for the intimate installment of the Sydney leg of their national tour, taking place at the Oxford Art Factory.
Having sold out the entire tour, the chance to see the band play a 400 cap room with no barrier, as opposed to the 1,000 person Metro Theatre the following night, promised to be absolute pandemonium for a working night.
Thankfully the crowd themselves hadn’t kicked into gear when I arrived, instead opting to stand and sway to the tight, fuzzy melodies courtesy of Geelong outfit ORB. Playing a classic take on heavy psych, the trio gave those unfamiliar with the genre the perfect taste of classic sounds and structures from the vast history of the style. Long, elongated jams along with buckets of reverb and technicolor lighting dousing the stage well and truly set the vibe in the room for what was to come.
With drum kits (two of them!), harmonicas, synths and flutes at the ready, Stu Mackenzie and co. squeezed onto the compact OAF stage to the delight of the overflowing room. Before launching into their set, Mackenzie took the time to thank the crew working the sound-desk, visuals and backstage logistics, before stepping up to the mic and uttering the lyrics “Nonagon Infinity opens the door.”
A single drum-roll later and the band exploded into album opener Robot Stop, with the capacity crowd snapping out of their mid-week trance and losing their collective poop in the process.
The band tore through their opening song and transitioned straight into follow-up Big Fig Wasp in the same flowing manner as heard on the record. It seemed like the band were set to play the album the same way it was presented on record, with each song tying into one another in a continuous loop of noise.
But alas, as the climax of the song arrived, Mackenzie turned around and motioned to his drummers to stop playing, indicating to the side of stage that there were some technical issues with the microphones. As anti-climactic as the moment was, it gave the audience a moment to collectively catch their breath and brace for the assault of Gamma Knife and People Vultures which followed in succession once everything was working again.
The most notable thing about King Gizzard in the live arena is that whilst the sounds they produce are chaotic and at times even violent, onstage the band themselves manage to compose themselves and allow the music itself to whir the crowd into a frenzy.
This was most evident when the band took a break from Nonagon Infinity material and unveiled past cuts I’m In Your Mind and I’m Not In Your Mind, with the group sitting back on their instruments and relying on their own sense of self-control to create the most enjoyable music possible.
One only noticed the calmness emanating from the band (bar front-man Mackenzie) though if they took a few steps back from the whirlwind of limbs and bodies throwing themselves against and from the stage and allowed themselves to appreciate the incredible professionalism on display.
The tightness of the two drummers was particularly impressive, with the sound never feeling cluttered or messy, but rather compact and powerful, adding the extra energy needed for newer cuts Evil Death Roll and Invisible Face to have full impact onstage.
The one-two punch of Wah Wah and Road Train brought things up yet another level, with the former seeing the crowd ride a fresh wave of energy in response to the huge distortion of the chorus. Just as the show was reaching seemingly intolerable levels of chaos (I myself had to move to the back after having the left side of my face pummeled by a stage-diver), the band gifted the crowd with Hot Water and a reprise of Robot Stop, cementing the theme of continuity found in Nonagon Infinity, before promptly departing.
It felt like it was over all too quickly, with the thrashing crowd stopping abruptly and gazing around in a stunned, sweaty stupor as the venue returned to a normal level of sound. As punters registered that it was indeed all over and there was no encore, they slowly began making their way to the venue’s exits trying to process the sheer intensity that had just occurred.
King Gizzard are selling out tours both nationally and internationally for a reason. They are a unique breath of fresh air and refuse to play by the rules of the industry, constantly evolving and challenging their audience to open their minds.
This energy and creativity has translated to their live show, and last Thursday night at OAF, for 90 minutes I and 400 other people felt a million miles from reality.
Image: Music Feeds