Let’s start with Nick Allbrook – that guy who’s probably played in at least three different bands you know and maybe even like. Armed with his guitar, a sampler, and enough pedals to rival his former bandmate Kevin Parker’s personal collection (which is probably verging on the five-hundred-million mark), the guy pretty much encompassed a one-man band. It’s not very often that over twenty members of the crowd at Bar Open will know the words to the songs of the support act – but I guess not many support acts at Bar Open constitute Nick Allbrook. He howled sampler-fied versions of Allbrook/Avery songs including Wait ‘till Morning, and The Man’s Not Me, as well as some groove-tastic solo stuff. He stopped half way through the set to introduce the audience to his Roland sampler – you know, “the same one Michael Jackson used on Thriller”. He then messily proceeded to recreate the beat to Billie Jean. And yes, I know what you’re all thinking – there WAS in fact that one pissed-off-their-tits audience member who was shouting Michael Jackson lyrics from the back of the room.
Allbrook’s on-stage technical workings provided a solid set with magical little segments of reverberated, electronic intensity. But then, a one-man band can’t really contend with the collective force of an seven-man explosion. Enter King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.
The three guitarists, two drummers, one bass player and ‘that guy who does everything’ opened with the newly-released sixteen-minute epic Head On/Pill. It trudged, sludged, and totally mind-fudged, breaking the usual first-song-awkwardness where nobody in the audience moves. The band shared (what I think were) cigarettes with crowd members and used whatever objects that would hold them to elevate themselves to a level where they could see everyone/be seen by everyone. They kept a wonderfully nonchalant and welcoming stage presence while still coming off as embarrassingly cool. And by that I mean embarrassing for the rest of us.
They carried on in the same manner with the rest of the LP Float Along/Fill Your Lungs. The new songs seemed to convey a shift from garage-rock-swing-punk-whatever to rather cleverly composed psychedelia. Of course the new tracks maintained the dirty-wirty fuzzy-wuzzy rawness of all King Gizz releases, but their truckload of instruments seemed organized to much greater effect than before. Frontman Stu Mackenzie shared vocals throughout the set with the other band members while thrashing about violently at the peak of each song. Swaying, shoving, crowd-surfing and spliffs were all round by the time they played their other pre-released track 30 Past 7. It looked as though every person there was thankful that they had braved the shitty Melbourne weather to come out that night.
Once King Gizzard ran out of songs to play from Float Along/Fill Your Lungs, Mackenzie announced they would do requests. The fast-paced garage gems Muckraker, Footy Footy, Black Tooth and Danger $$$ pretty much induced a total frenzy from the audience. Requests were continually screamed from crowd-members even after the band confessed that they were “getting pretty tired”. The only shame of it all was that Broderick Smith, father to one-seventh of the band, was not present to narrate some campfire lyrics from their previous album Eyes Like The Sky (although I don’t know if the audience requested that anyway). Besides that, there wasn’t much more that one could ask for in a King Gizzard gig. My apologies for being that dick, but seriously – it was quite a ‘bloody ripper’ show. And better yet, it was totally free!
By Niamh Crosbie