king gizzard

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

The Tote, Melbourne – 8th October 2012

OK, before I go any further let me say this: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are exceptionally good. If you like seatbelts-off, unconstrained, no nonsense, guitar-driven rock and roll that makes you want to get on a motorbike, ride a surfboard, and shoot guns into the air this is the real deal. It is the kind of music and experience that generates a sense of hope and possibility that may well be dashed later in life but when you’re 21 makes life seem rich, deep and sweet.

I feel I need to say this up front as there is an urgency, exuberance, and heads-down, no-bullshit honesty about them that makes you really want to stop effing about and get on with life. So really I could just leave it at that. Go and see them or don’t, meanwhile I am moving to Las Vegas with a stripper. But this being a review I guess I should give you a little bit more.

On their website they describe themselves thus: “Completely fried theremin wielding psychopaths. Half originating from the flat salt bush plains of Deniliquin and the other from the sea stained Anglesea coastline. Brought together through a share house in Carlton and a mutual love of Pavement, Thee Oh Sees and Nuggets Comps.”

I quote them in full as that paragraph sums them up perfectly – not so much the facts but the way they say it. There is a romance and unfettered freedom about them that comes from being brought up in the big open spaces of rural south-east Australia but also a sassiness and knowingness that comes from probably drinking a lot of coffee in all the right places on Melbourne’s grungely fashionable inner north side.

And while the three references give you a flavour I heard a lot of other ingredients in there too: The Cramps, Gun Club, King Kurt, and Jesus and Mary Chain to name a few.

The band that comes into my mind though as they plunge into their first song is the British band EMF and their 1990 hit ‘Unbelievable’. Musically and aesthetically they have nothing in common, but what they do have in spades is a similar infectious energy, camaraderie, and sense that they are having great fun, while still being naturally cool. Most people get into rock and roll bands hoping that they will become more interesting, get laid and have a fun life. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard look like they were already interesting, getting laid and having a fun life so they have nothing to prove. They are just doing what they love to do.

Everything about this gig was perfect. The Tote is a legendary Melbourne indie rock venue, played by every up and coming group of hipsters from The Birthday Party on. It’s got a pool table in the poster splattered front bar and the kind of toilets that look like a lot of heroin has been shot up in there over the years. But generation Y, non smoking laws, and a good cleaner give it a fresh air now that fits perfectly with the vibe of the band.

I could go on but instead let me just give you a few licks. They come on fast, play fast and finish fast. It is an unrelenting tide of growling guitars, great tunes and thumping drums. There’s three guitars, two drummers, a bass player and a man whose role seems mainly to get drunk – and he does it well. They have two lead singers who alternate, one likes to hang from the ceiling, which he does with some style. They have an adoring crowd that contains some of those achingly beautiful indie girls who seem to favour really ordinary boyfriends, the kind of gal you just want to scoop up and leave town with. They have no duff songs, and in ‘Dead Beat’ a song that is just a couple of notches off an indie classic. They make their own t-shirts that look very cool but I’d wager wouldn’t stand up in the wash. At the end, showing their Gen Y roots, they thank the crowd a lot, encourage them to buy drinks from the bar but not too many, and then they are gone.

Their debut album 12 Bar Bruise came out this week.

Words and pics by Neil Gibb

gizzard ticket
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