Two or three years ago if you had asked who "King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard" were to most fans of independent alternative music you probably wouldn't have gotten too far. But in that industry time is often your enemy and you have to capitalize on the momentum. I bring this up because when King Gizzard first cake to Nola, they rocked One Eyed Jacks out in front a soldier crowd. Last year they repeated that with another killer show at the slightly larger Republic, again selling it out. Last night they expanded the increasingly growing fan base with their third sold out New Orleans show in two years, packing the Joy Theater for a late summer blowout featuring 90 minutes of their often pummeling but occasionally weird mid tempo music.
If you've seen the seven piece from Melbourne you know the band is light on stage banter and full on entertainment and lights. This time was no different. As the lights dimmed a somewhat uncomfortably full Joy began to sway with the anticipation of KG showing themselves to the big room they seemed poised to dominate.
Both bands were great to be honest. What impressed me even more was the family vibe I got in relation to the evening trio of acts. All from the same label, all supporting each other, throwing down some seriously heavy beats to a capacity crowd.
But obviously, the big draw was the headliners, who again didn't disappoint. At this point I'm not even sure they have off nights, because they haven't been anything less than excellent. If you're not aware, this is a busy band, and by busy I mean three full American tours in two years, 8 albums in three years, not to mention all the other shows the band has done and whatever else they have recorded that the outside world might not be aware yet.
Led by the energetic and gangly, long bushy haired Stu McKenzie the band entered the stage to ominous intro music, with the stage lights glowing red. Opening up with "Self Immolate," off the recent thrash based "Infest the Rays Nest," the intensity could be felt from the jump, and the sold out crowd quickly formed mosh pits of various size and aggression levels throughout the floor of the Joy, but it was smiles all around. The band at this point is so tight and well oiled they're capable of effortlessly feeding off the crowd as they drive guttural riffs into the crowds subconscious in a beautiful array of chaos and power.
Over the course of the nearly one hundred minute show, KG multiple tracks from "Rats Nest," such as "Perihelion," which saw the crowd chanting along with the title track namesake as fists flew in the air in a way that only thrash music is capable of inspiring.
One surprising aspect of the show was the lack of the bands best known hits. "Rattlesnake" and "Crumbling Castle" we're both left out of the evenings festivities, but it didn't seem to matter to anyone. Following thirty brutal opening minutes, the band took the weird off the beaten path approach and delivered
Some more relaxed songs than what the band is expertly known for. "Cellophane" ended up being a nearly ten minute abstract rollicking trip of psychedelia, slowly edging into a cheeky low down version of "Boogieman Sam," which I have to admit was a nice change from the full on face melting moments of the initial offering.
Watching the show I felt as though the easy going nature of the segment of the show slowed down the momentum of the evening, but instead it acted as a necessity for the band and perhaps the audience to catch their breath before more brutality was unleashed.
Again though, the relative peace wasn't meant to last. As the band again rose to meet the audiences thirst, the monstrous "Superbug" was presented with thundering beats and more energy than most of the wavering audience could handle. "The "Bird Song" acted as a stopping point to catch your breathe, but by the time the set drew to a close with the triple threat of "Horology," and especially "Organ Farmer" and finally "Rats Nest" closer "Hell" the band and the crowd seemed to hit a wall neither could turn back from.
The music can be exquisite and beautiful at time, but st their core KG thrive under the intense light of avant- grade metal that the only seem poised to conquer. It was another incredible show from a band that it still showing how far they can go in the music industry, and based on what I observed, the next stop for King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard will be filling area as and headlining festivals in the not too distant future.
Photos courtesy of Steven Hatley