It was too many good feelings to make sense of until later; contagious adrenaline whipping a mass of muscles into motion as gooey progressions, lightning-strike riffs, and mathematically insane beats gushed from the only band they could possibly belong to, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard. Not only did the beloved Australian psychedelic rockers – who released five albums last year and have repeatedly blown our minds – just wrap up an impressive 22 U.S. tour dates in 24 days, but they sold out every single one of them, including three nights at New York’s Brooklyn Steel. It’s been thrilling to watch the prolific band coax in the cult-like following they’ve long deserved, particularly since they did so like blissfully unaware snake charmers, just pouring out new melodies and playing incessantly around the globe. On Friday night of their Brooklyn residency, the vast majority of fans squished into the sold-out space were perceptibly obsessed; brains full of Gizz trivia and prepped for intense setlist analysis, breathless with affection for each song that bubbled to the surface.
The Melbourne-based 7-piece – consisting of Stu Mackenzie, Ambrose Kenny-Smith, Joey Walker, Cook Craig, Lucas Skinner, Michael Cavanagh, and Eric Moore – are objectively unlike any other band, in the studio or on the stage. It’s a special mix of otherworldly creativity, fierce execution, and satisfying repetition, among other magical things, all mashing together and bursting with color like exotic fruits in a whirring blender. King Gizzard’s three-night run at BK Steel kicked off with a deliciously shred-heavy performance in which they kept the setlist nice and tidy, focusing on clusters of songs from Murder Of The Universe, Polygondwanaland, Gumboot Soup, Flying Microtonal Banana, and Nonagon Infinity, in that order – with a quick trip back to I’m In Your Mind Fuzz via “Cellophane” mixed into the MOTU goodness. Their faces framed by the mind-bending graphics morphing behind them, the dynamic musicians were tightly locked in to untethered solos and swift tempo changes – but even so, they each seemed to have a few “holy fuck” moments when they glanced over at the thrashing crowd’s voracious response.
Wearing glorious Gizz shirts decorated with the art of Jason Galea, the fans were absolutely mental on Friday night – egging each other on, crowd-surfing constantly, and moshing in an ecstatic bundle of bones and bruises. Tongue out and long hair flying, Stu brought his mesmerizing sound and presence to the front of the stage, slicing into their unmistakable riffs and mystical lyrics like a hot knife cutting through butter. With their double drum sets positioned face-to-face as always, Michael and Eric stayed perfectly in sync throughout stick-splintering rhythms; no metronomical aid aside from the relaxed (and seemingly psychic) eye contact they maintained. “We got the boy with the blues over here…he’s gonna sing some blues music!” Stu said of Ambrose as the talented multi-instrumentalist donned their yellow microtonal guitar and soared on vocals for the awesome Banana songs that ensued. The experimental rockers wrapped with a “Robot Stop” that featured an almost cruelly-short intro of “Am I In Heaven?,” followed by a killer “Gamma Knife” with a “People Vultures” tease. While their generous night one set somehow still seemed too short, it ultimately included more full songs than night two, and just as many as night three, so there was none of that first-night timidity you might expect from other acts. In fact, Friday’s show probably felt a bit shorter since they took the stage surprisingly early, wasted no time between songs, and skipped the encore charade for all three nights. And of course, you can never really get enough of King Gizzard when every song that takes shape in their nimble hands is a life-altering ball of fire.
Article Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley