As my friend Meagan and I anxiously waited at will-call to enter the newly renovated Neumos, I kept catching myself singing “Rattlesnake.” And looking back at it, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s recent show at Neumos on April 9 was a lot like listening to that song: it started off with a growing crescendo of anticipation, and then hit you with the steady riffs and repetition. I didn’t know I was ready for it until it hit me. The show itself started off with anxious excitement, and as the night grew on, each song built more and more momentum, equally as impressive as the rest, but left you wondering what song would come next. It was fast-paced, heart-racing utter magic.
The venue filled quickly and we found ourselves going up the balcony to find the perfect spot. Lo and behold, we found ourselves behind a 6-foot-something woman who just so happened to want to take up three-spaces-worth of the ultimate viewpoint. Why do bad things happen to good people? Regardless of the struggle of being 5’1’’, I decided to not let it bother me too much, as I heard rustling on stage for the first band’s setup.
Hailing from Geelong, Victoria in Australia, slack prog three-piece ORB took the stage first. This group is quite an obscure one. No matter how hard I scavenge through the interwebs, I can’t seem to find a lot of information about them. 2 songs on SoundCloud, a few photos on their Facebook page, and then zilch! Nevertheless, this may actually be beneficial to them, because as soon as they began their set, they hit me with incredible, hardcore rock. Unexpected, to say the least. Their songs emphasized dramatic, repetitive riffs and guitar vibratos. Similar to that of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, ORB’s music puts the spotlight on the intricate rhythms, as opposed to the lyrics. I’ll be keeping my eyes on this trio. Even with an obscure online presence, their live performance is one for the books.
Then, it happened. The stage lights turned yellow and blue. A screen descended in the back of the stage, projecting pixelated, psychedelic imagery of whirls and patterns galore. The seven multi-talented Aussies of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard graced the stage. And so it began.
They started with “Open Water,” a fresh, tame opening to a night that would turn into complete madness. KGLW has two drummers. That’s right, two. They started it off with an incredible stead beat, and then entered their signature guitar riffs and vocals. I was immediately impressed with their utterly precise and clean-cut performance, with each song seamlessly bleeding into the next. Their transitions were steady and complete with clean riffs.
The band was light with their words, but never forgot to give “thank you’s” to the roaring crowd of the sold-out Seattle venue.
They played a mix of old and new songs, including “Robot Stop” and “People-Vultures” off of their looping album, Nonagon Infinity. “Billabong Valley,” off of their newest album, Flying Microtonal Banana, was beautifully executed, with a solid mix of fast sixteenth-note piano beats and a mesmerizing, swoony guitar melody.
“Doom City” brought the heat to a new level with its slow, heavy-hitting, repetitive melody that interchanged with a faster, more rhythmic tempo. From the balcony, I could see the crowds below moving like waves with limbs—an ebb and flow of human motion, both serene and maddening all at once. At one point, an audience member pushed herself off of the edge of the stage, attempting to jump into the crowd to surf, but because it was so sudden, no one was able to catch her and she sunk to the ground with a thud. Luckily, the folks around her picked her up quickly and she jumped back up and started moshing like nothing had happened; like she didn’t just take a deep dive onto the sticky floor. Wild. +1 for effort!
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s live show is truly unlike nothing else. Each song seamlessly morphs into the next. They never failed to amaze me with just how simple they made it all look—their incredibly complicated guitar solos, fast-changing tempos of percussion, and multiple layers of rhythm and guitar whammys, along with the rest of the works.
In an interview with Cheryl Waters at KEXP in 2015, KGLW mentioned that each record is some type of experiment, and I think this speaks wholly of this band’s entity—its core. Each song has its own key elements, making it unlike any of the rest, while still being tied to the entirety of the album. This show at Neumos was exactly that: an experiment. It was a mix of songs—each different, each unique, and each unexpected. But when put together, absolutely amazing.
APRIL JINGCO | You’re a wizard, gizzard! | KXSU Digital Media Director