King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard Brisbane Review @ The Tivoli Review

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard played The Tivoli Theatre (Brisbane) 4 July, 2019.
Solar-powered journalist with a love for live reviews and the challenge of describing sounds with words. Always: cooking, often: thrifting, sometimes: playing the piano, rarely: social, never: late. Living abroad in Japan.

I recently decided that the topic: ‘Why are men in their late teens/ early 20s so fixated by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard?’ was unequivocally worthy of a thesis study.

Truly, I considered conducting an ‘obtain your masters’-style research project, because the subject is so prevalent – and fascinating.

And there at The Tivoli Theatre (4 July) in Brisbane were the perfect examples of my research subjects to be, many within the parameters of my outlined characteristics (boy, late teen/ early 20s), though many others admittedly breaching my criteria.

As the lights began to dim, the stage backdrop illuminated with the eerie ‘Organ Farmer’ cover art, paired with rumbling instrumentals. King Gizzard launched into the unreleased ‘Venusian 2’, briefly pausing to wish the crowd “Good evening”, before unveiling the forthcoming, ‘Mars For The Rich’.

“Brisbane – how are you?” vocalist Stu Mackenzie asked, flipping the pace with the twanging bass of harmonica-embellished ‘Plastic Boogie’, our first taste from their recent, mixed-review received record, ‘Fishing For Fishies’.

‘Inner Cell’ from ‘Polygondwanaland’ felt more intense than its recorded counterpart; as per the album, they followed with ‘Loyalty’, Stu aptly navigating the synths. For the first time all set a member turned and acknowledged the audience; guitarist/ vocalist Joey Walker nodding briefly, before re-immersing himself in concentration.

King Gizzard extracted a three-song chunk from 2017 record, ‘Murder Of The Universe’, performing ‘Altered Beast I’, ‘Alter Me I’, and ‘Altered Beast II’ in quick, relentless succession. Stark contrast as ‘Acarine’ emerged, the song distinctly more structured.

Seemingly stage shy multi-instrumentalist Ambrose Kenny Smith conquered another harmonica solo, before the track crept into its electronic conclusions. ‘This Thing’ immediately asserted itself as another ‘Fishing For Fishies’ addition; ‘The Bird Song’ too – all three jazz-influenced, almost comparable to funk group Vulfpeck.

Another genre switch with 2019 single ‘Self-Immolate’, and the unreleased ‘Perihelion’; both proof King Gizzard are dipping their toes into heavy metal on the next album.

“You guys all good? This one’s called ‘Hell’” – another Rammstein-comparable composition. The trio of tracks may have been lesser known by fans, though they fuelled a fiery death pit.

‘Cyboogie’ is a rare King Gizzard release dictated by a strong, unchanging beat; the band’s bold techno venture complete with robotic vocals, via a voice-changer.

“Oi! Boogieman Sam!” Stu shouted, pre-announcing the song, the band diving into its bluesy hues. “Thank you so much to our friends Bitch Diesel and Midlife,” he credited the supports. “Realll hard acts to follow – let’s give them a big round of applause. Yeah!”

2016 record ‘Nonagon Infinity’ debuted with starting song ‘Robot Stop’, meshing seamlessly into the subsequent ‘Big Fig Wasp’, rounding off with the iconic ‘Gamma Knife’. While the large volume of music King Gizzard has released has undoubtedly spurred various perspectives of the band’s ‘token sound’, these three tracks are my personal summary of the seven-piece in a nutshell.

Ambrose debuted his quivering vocals with the Sonic Youth-sounding ‘The Wheel’, from ‘Gumboot Soup’ – as per the album, it became the gig closer, band fading with the lights, screaming, “Thank you!”.

King Gizzard are probably most well recognised as the ‘non-stop music-makers’, who dropped five albums in a year, circa 2017. But while even I was quick to question whether quality would drop as the quantity rapidly increased, listening live has simply reaffirmed the fact that the band have never stooped below their impeccably high standard.

In fact, I’ve gained an all-new level of respect for (and understanding of) each record’s differing personality. Singular King Gizzard songs CAN come off as confusing, but as a package – the albums are beautiful works of art.

Though what was perhaps my favourite live element was the band’s incredibly calm disposition. Such an interesting contrast – their music being chaotic, sometimes frenzied, often unpredictable – performed by seven consistently focussed musicians, the absorption in their instruments rarely broken by the odd head bang or surrendered flicker of emotion.

If anybody’s eager to tackle my thesis addressing the band’s massive fan base of late teens to early 20y-something men – let me know. After that performance, I'm instead questioning those of all ages and genders who AREN’T fixated by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.

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