Guest blogger Rob Howlett gives us the lowdown on psychedelic rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard rocking Brixton on Thursday night.
On the 8th of September 2016, an Australian freight train ripped its way through Brixton. Powered by two replica drummers this thundering band of seven left a trail of beaten and battered psyche rockers in its wake. Tonight, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard lived up to their reputation as a band to see in the flesh.
King Gizzard follow on the back of a wave of psychedelic rock bands that have invigorated a genre largely consigned to the scrapheap. But, neither as neatly produced as their Australian counterparts, Tame Impala, nor as lyrically adept and as ethereal as bands such as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, they have been largely overlooked. Perhaps as a consequence of this prestigious company their breakthrough album in the UK (I’m in Your Mind Fuzz – their fourth album) never quite made the impact that it maybe should have. But what this band lack in maturity when compared to their counterparts, they make up for in unstoppable energy.
From beginning to end King Gizzard roared through a set that was largely faithful to their three most recent releases. Their prodigious output (eight albums in four years) stands as testament to both their musical talent and prolific song-writing skills. The diversity of their capabilities was exemplified by the release of their seventh album, Paper Mache Dream Balloon. Sounding more like the drug induced soundtrack to an episode of Trumpton than the psychedelic garage rock that fills much of their previous output, this largely acoustic album showed that King Gizzard can switch gears when they need to, and are willing to throw in some jazz flute if necessary. The most recent release, Nonagon Infinity, featured a musical motif that allowed the last track to flow seamlessly into the first, enabling listeners to become wrapped in an infinite loop of Lizard Wizardry. It is this desire to keep things moving at all times that drives King Gizzard through their live set.
Throughout the gig the band were guided by their not-so-fat controller, lead singer Stu Mackenzie. Like a puppet on a string his Andy Pandy body flipped, flopped and spasmed over a guitar that threw out riffs that reveal influences from Led Zeppelin to the Doors, while endlessly distracted by a temptation to scream down the microphone and keep the train running. The two guitarists on either side maintained the pace and followed Mackenzie’s lead, throwing in wha wha based psychedelia when he needed to pick up a drink, whip out his flute, or take a breath to prepare his next shriek. A key member of this ultra-talented homage to bands gone by is Ambrose Kenny Smith. Standing on the stage sidelines he provided the synth that gives the band its depth of sound and threw out ferocious bouts of blues rock harmonica throughout.
King Gizzard don’t often give you something completely new; but so what? So what if that riff sounds like it’s come straight from Black Sabbath? So what if this breakdown could be Led Zeppelin? And so what if they often lyrically make as much sense as their name? This band will hit you hard live, and if you aren’t shouting, screaming, jittering and following in their wake, then you’re more lizard than human.