King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard at The Tote, 27/3/2014
The idea of the same band playing five shows in the same city, five nights in a row is absurd. Yes. But then, so is a band name like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. So if anybody was ever going to pull it off, it would have been them. And ‘pull it off’ is exactly what they did last night at The Tote.
Gum was the support act. You may already know and love Gum (Jay Watson) for being an original member of both Tame Impala and Pond; because I’m pretty sure most of the audience did. Unfortunately however, the tracks churned out by Watson’s five-piece (that featured Stu Mackenzie from King Gizzard and Joe Ryan from Pond) weren’t quite of the same ilk. Space-dream favorites like Delorean Highway and Growin’ Up evoked the most response from the audience, but given that they were the first two songs he played the response wasn’t maintained.
But the music was enjoyable nonetheless. Reverberated, sonic pop songs with the occasional twist of a tempo-change kept the band room content as it steadily filled throughout Gum’s set, with fresh-faced Watson exercising his totally adolescent and yet strangely absorbing stage banter at times too.
‘DJ Dave Graney’ subsequently spun the decks while the seven-man headline act found comfortable spaces on the stage. Characteristic of The Tote, classic rock classics blared throughout the band room as the headliners set up for the second of their five shows this week.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard performed Sleepwalker first. An album track from their latest LP Oddments, I have never meant anything more than when I say that this song was so much better live. Rather than the clean pop jingle that it is on the album (and eerily reminiscent of The Shins) – the space-affected, hard-hitting drums, on top of the mere input of seven guys with instruments, meant that the song became a blissful psychedelic stomp.
And the theme of ‘psychedelic stomp’ prevailed throughout the rest of the set. Somehow, they’re already playing brand new songs despite their last album coming out literally three weeks ago – and few of the audience had qualms with this. Their new tracks, Ghost and Cellophane signal a throwback to their earlier, more grungy and garage inspired releases while maintaining the pop sophistication of their newer ones – with the simplistic two-chord garage riff of Ghost leaving you thinking “how is this not already a song?”
They then launched into another track from Oddments; the grimy, boot-stompin’ Hot Wax, before swapping vocals to play Crying – another psychedelic, pedal-ed out pop song from their new album. While the audience enjoyed the newer tracks, a general eagerness for particular songs from their previous releases emerged; rendering Crying the last new track they played.
The band then humored the long-time fans in attendance with the first and final tracks from their debut release Willoughby’s Beach; Danger $$$ and the title track. The sterling garage bangers got people moving, hair flying, necks aching, and people screaming the two lines of each song – the second of which consisting entirely of “danger money, danger money, danger money, I want danger money”. The final minute of Willoughby’s Beach saw front man Stu Mackenzie swing from the stage roof and leap into the crowd, while only ever so slightly missing the guitar notes he was supposed to be playing. Needless to say the crowd loved it. Ambrose Kenny-Smith then briefly hijacked the vocals for Cut Throat Boogie, from their cleverly-titled second release 12 Bar Bruise.
They saved the crowd favorite for last. It’s not often that the most hype-inducing song at a gig goes for sixteen minutes, but as previously mentioned, with a name like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard anything is possible. The audience more or less lost their sh*t during Head On/Pill – singing the riff (not even the words) upon recognizing the song.
Fifteen minutes later, Head On/Pill was still going and the windows of The Tote were well and truly steamed with sweat. King Gizzard ended their set having rigorously exercised the audience – with its intensity calling for a halt lest somebody faint from heat exhaustion. An encore would have been called for had it been necessary, but it wasn’t. Instead, bewildered patrons were left to wonder about The Tote trying to recall the last time they perspired so much. Personally, this can only ever happen at King Gizzard shows.