King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard Herald the Return of Communal Face-Melting

 

Surprisingly, that’s actually not the name of an upcoming King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard album, but rather the key takeaway from the blistering set they delivered at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre last night.

After such a long live music drought, it was safe to say that the atmosphere was beyond ecstatic (insert Gizz-inspired Static Electricity pun here), and after a year of forced retirement, I don’t think my ears were quite prepared for the almighty cheer as soon as the band hit the stage and kicked right into If Not Now, Then When? from their latest exploration into microtonal tuning L.W. As one of the dancier cuts off their latest album/s, it was the perfect opener and reminder of what we’d missed over the past year – a good ‘ol fashioned limb-flailing boogie. Not a single person in the Enmore was still, and that remained true until the last microtonal note of the evening rang out.

King Gizzard are a ridiculously prolific band, to the point where I’m honestly surprised kids don’t just practice counting their albums to learn numbers in Pre-School. One of the joys of having such a dense and varied back catalog is that each tour can be totally unique; built around a different guiding principal, and making each one a totally new experience. Whereas other tours have been focussed around re-creating the non-stop circular rock of Nonagon Infinity or thrash metal wall-of-sound of Infect the Rats Nest, this was an evening exclusively dedicated to the intricacies of microtonal tuning.

Pulling almost entirely from their three microtonal albums, Flying Microtonal Banana, K.G. and L.W. allowed the band to create a set quite unlike anything I’ve seen before, creating a sense of musical harmony across the entire evening, with each song a small chapter in the quarter-tone-tale they told. Songs like Oddlife, Nuclear Fusion (a personal favourite of mine which absolutely delivered!) and Ataraxia all flowed together, whilst other tracks like Open Water were given a slightly heavier facelift to sit perfectly in the set. I should note it was particularly fitting to hear this and Melting on Earth Day!

As much as the crowd were soaking up the energy of the band throughout the set, it was clear that this was a reciprocal arrangement, with Stu Mackenzie and Ambrose Kenny-Smith both feeding heavily off the audience, particularly for the latter in a call-and-response section of Straws in the Wind. You could clearly tell they’d missed us as much as we’d missed them.

As tight as the whole set was, the clear highlight was the closing double hit of The Hungry Wolf of Fate and K.G.L.W. which truly melted all faces in attendance and got the mosh going like only King Gizzard know how to do. I’ve no shame in admitting it brought a tear to my eye to see. Actually that was probably sweat. But hey, you know what I mean. Live music is back, and the Gizz are here to make sure everyone knows it!

 

Big shoutouts to Tropical Fuck Storm as well for kicking off the evening with a heavy punch and some classic pedal board (tropical?) fuckery. No one else out there quite sounds like Gareth Liddiard, and it was a true delight watching him trade vocals and sounds with band members Fiona Kitschin, Erica Dunn and Lauren Hammel on each track, before descending into the requisite instrumental freakouts. 

Words by Mark Royters.

Photos by Josh Groom.

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Tropical F*ck Storm – Enmore Theatre, 22/04/21

About Mark Royters

Many years ago I was given an Arctic Monkeys EP. Everything changed from that moment onwards. I'm a Sydney-based music writer, reviewer and interviewer.

View all posts by Mark Royters

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