King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
w/ Dead Ghosts and The Prettys
@ Rickshaw Theatre
May 28, 2016.
Five years and eight full lengths later, it seems as if Aussie psych freaks King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard have finally gotten the recognition they deserve following the release of their critically acclaimed LP Nonagon Infinity. Blending the driving krautrock of their 2014 release I’m in Your Mind Fuzz with the jammy jazz psych of Quarters and 60s pop songwriting of Oddments and Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, Nonagon Infinity is a triumphant record. It tops off a hectic two and a half years that saw them carve their way into the public eye while releasing four stellar albums along the way. Their sold out show at the Rickshaw Theatre was a testament to this, serving as a victory lap while demonstrating that they had no intention of slowing down.
Despite the rainy weather, fans showed up early, and the venue was almost full in time for the first opener. The openers, local power pop outfit The Prettys and Burger Records signees Dead Ghosts, did just as any good opener should and played quick, energetic sets to ease the listener in and prepare them for the sonic onslaught that would follow.
After a short break, the lights dimmed and the instantly recognizable, assaulting double bass drum intro of Mötorhead’s “Overkill” began blaring through the PA as the Australian septet casually strutted on stage. The group, which featured three guitarists — including frontman Stu Mackenzie who often swapped his guitar for a flute, Cook Craig and Joey Walker — Lucas Skinner on bass, and Ambrose Kenny-Smith who juggled harmonica, synth and percussion duties as well as two drummers — Eric Moore and Michael Cavanaugh — who spent the majority of the set playing in unison. They wasted no time setting the tone of the performance, jumping straight into an overblown rendition of Nonagon Infinity’s first side without skipping a beat. This introductory sequence, which saw the band melding the album’s first four tracks into a storming twenty minute jam, was further accentuated by Mackenzie’s wacky stage antics which included grimaces, upper body contortions, random swells of guitar feedback and an impromptu flute solo. Meanwhile, the rest of the band followed valiantly like a well oiled machine, without ever sacrificing speed or style.
The rest of the show would follow in this vein, with the group opting to play their longer tracks — as well as the first four tracks off of I’m in Your Mind Fuzz which bleed into each other much like the ones on Nonagon Infinity — rather than their more straightforward, conventionally lengthed ones. The sole exception was their gnarled performance of Paper Mâché Dream Balloon’s “Trapdoor,” which happened to be a pleasant break in tempo as it was sandwiched between two especially hectic ones. Hardly breaking between songs and shying away from any sort of stage banter, King Gizzard let their music do the talking and made sure to give the fans their money’s worth. The end result was a frenzied, tireless performance which kept the crowd bouncing around throughout the night.
The set itself was comprised of tracks spanning their discography, showcasing their wide variety while keeping the show diverse and interesting. Playing everything from the jazzy psych of the Quarters!’s “The River” to the spacey “Head On/Pills” from Float Along Fill Your Lungs, the group made sure to fulfill everybody’s sonic palette. Despite this variety of material performed, every track seemed to be played out with the speed, intensity and slight Sabbath-esque undertones of the new album while never giving up the touch which made them so special to begin with.
If Nonagon Infinity doesn’t cement King Gizzard as one of best groups in today’s psychedelic rock scene, their crazed, jam filled live show surely must.