To start, any bill that solely consists of The Murlocs and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is going to be impenetrable. Whisk said bill into an oversold, two-story Gasometer on a Friday night and you’ve got quite a squeeze: a high-energy, shoulder-to-shoulder, rigidly melodic squeeze.
For those unfamiliar with The Murlocs — picture a quintet of skinny, long haired guys delivering a hybrid of psychedelia, blues and garage with a harmonica-yielding frontman. It’s needless to say that combined with a band room that was already nearing capacity, the grating riffs and howled vocals became immersive. Between the livid blues hook of ‘Space Cadet’ and the droning twang of their recent album’s title track ‘Loopholes’; the Gasometer was overcome by a lively cat-call to the multi-layered garage meddlings of much older times. Frontman Ambrose Kenny-Smith lunged about the stage with harmonica in hand – screaming blues vocals that verged on a shrill. Meanwhile, the rhythmic, brazen guitars served as a blatant invitation to boogie; this invitation being refused by very few towards the front. Props to the Gasometer for the great sound quality, too.
And so, The Murlocs ended and the crowd shuffled about; many of whom strategically manouvered their way between every visible nook and cranny towards the stage. This intermission claimed several beverages as its casualties — about two of which were spilt on yours truly. Thus, the band room already stank of beer and sweat by the time King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard took the stage; but then, one would be strapped to name a King Gizzard show where this wasn’t the case.
They opened with what seemed to be a medley of songs from their soon-to-be-released fifth album I’m In Your Mind Fuzz. The first two of these songs were ‘I’m In Your Mind Fuzz’ and then ‘I’m Not In Your Mind Fuzz’; two very conversely titled tracks which could have been confused for one long song by Thee Oh Sees. And I don’t mean this in a bad way. In spite of the new album’s apparent similarities to the ‘cool parents’ of twenty-first century garage, King Gizzard have proved themselves to be a very different kettle indeed. Put simply – bad things don’t happen when there are seven people churning out pumping, bass-popping garage riffs with spot-on sound production (again, props) and a room full of drunkards.
Anyway, next they played their recent single ‘Cellophane’ – a track that ran in a similar vein to those before it. They carried on in consistent form; each song from their forthcoming album seemingly more enticing to the audience than the last. This, as mildly-expected, eventually led to the materialization of every seven-man band’s nightmare: numerous people jumping onto the already overcrowded stage. Awkwardly gesturing the rowdiest of patrons back to where they emerged from, the second half of the set saw the addition of older songs. The Cramps-esque ‘Hot Wax’ was chaotic, surf-rock corker ‘Black Tooth’ was also chaotic, and, of course, ‘Danger $$$’; the song that goes for less than two minutes, has about four words and a hectic midway tempo change, was really chaotic. Several more beers were spilt during this one minute and 45 second timeframe.
They closed with ‘Head On/Pill’ – a psych-rock fantasia from their 2013 album Float Along/Fill Your Lungs, which already goes for 16 minutes on tape. Regardless, the version they played that night went for more than 20 minutes. Perhaps the song’s extension was a final attempt to so substantially exhaust the crowd that an encore would be out of the question. Perhaps it was an attempt to so substantially exhaust themselves that they’d each meet their weekly exercise requirements. Or perhaps, they just felt like playing the song for 20 minutes. For whatever reason it was, it worked.