Melbourne’s King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are a rare breed in that they are post-Generation X hard rockers who are actually doing interesting things. There are many fine younger musicians out there doing great work, but for whatever reason, little of it is happening in guitar-based rock. Evidence of this can be seen in the lack of rock in the Triple J Hottest 100 in recent years and also the line-up of the most recent, heavy rock festival in Australia, Download; it was headlined by ’80s and ’90s favourites, Slayer, Judas Priest and Alice in Chains.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard wear their influences on their sleeve, but they bring their own sensibilities to the party (unlike say, Greta Van Fleet), and they have some serious musical chops. Since their debut in 2010, they’ve been astonishingly prolific; they’ve releasing 14 albums of hard and groovy psychedelia, including this year’s bluesy Fishing for Fishies.
They’re set to release yet another album in August. In another shift in musical direction, the upcoming album, Infest the Rats’ Nest, is destined to be thrash metal inspired by their childhood heroes Metallica, Slayer and Exodus among others. The three singles released preceding the album, most notably the searing Planet B, make the album an exciting prospect.
The show on Friday (July 5) began with a trio of blistering thrash tunes from the upcoming album, first of which was the recent single Self Immolate which channels mid ’80s Metallica while still preserving its Gizzardness. The band is known as a sprawling, psychadelic hard rock act. While that’s their bread and butter, they’ve dipped into many genres. We got the fantastic blues of Plastic Boogie after the initial thrash dose and thereafter the set gave us a little of all that they do.
The synth-heavy Cyboogie was incredible, especially when paired with a trio of large screens pulsing with appropriately freaky animation in time with the groove. Similarly, the complex Acarine mashed up blues and synthy psych rock and took us over the hills and far away …
Another highlight was the poppy, key-driven Beginner’s Luck which stood out juxtaposed with all the spaciness and the thrash. The wild and trippy instrumental Murder of the Universe with its bizarre spoken word voiceover with lines such as “I turn lakes into porridge and buildings into bile” was the climax of the night. After this song, the set began to drag but then we were given the one-two punch of Planet B and new single Organ Farmer and the night was over. There was no encore.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are currently one of Australia’s most popular bands and with performances like this and a host of surprising and poignant albums, they’re destined to be a band that are talked about glowingly in decades to come.
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