Live Review :: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
November 5th 2013
When Alice woke up, did she question which was reality: the tree she was sleeping underneath or the rabbit she pursued so fervidly?
Days after The Standard hosted King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, I’m asking myself similar questions.
It began with East River, a band whose music wouldn’t seem out of place as the soundtrack to a cult Californian cop film… Their ‘surf’s up!’ guitar riffs being pursued around the place by the coppers on the beat (aka the drums). Each band member popped along to the music like a series of dashboard-hula toys.
Their music gave me flashbacks like a ‘Nam veteran on an acid trip, except my memories were of the last time I was at The Standard, listening to the psychedelic stylings of Pond.
East River wrapped up with a bow before Alex Cameron’s band took stage, dressed with the belief that 90’s stereotypes are still in. Cameron’s drummer looks like a biker with an American flag bandana and shades, while the front-man himself dressed like Christian Bale in American Psycho.
Their music, a cross between Kirin J Callinan and Nick Cave, sounds like it should be blaring through an eight-track while a Wall Street banker samples some Colombian-smelling powders, pumping himself up for a night with Sharleen the Call Girl at his favourite titty bar.
Cameron definitely nailed the douchey Wall Street character as well (well, I hope it was a character, I’d hate to think he’s as big a dick off stage as well), berating the crowd for not cheering enough or getting excited about his upcoming album (which you can keep an eye on here, if you dare).
After Alex Cameron strutted off stage to sign posters for the crowd, seven people stepped on and picked up their instruments.
So began the real journey down the psychedelic rabbit-hole, with King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard acting as the white rabbit.
Playing almost every song from their latest release Float Along – Fill Your Lungs, their sound was that of an all powerful cacophony, overwhelming every audio stimuli in your body. Even the lighting worked in perfect harmony of sensory overload, flashing with such intensity that you could only glimpse at the band, like a solar eclipse. I had to eventually time my blinking with the rotation of the lights so I didn’t burn out my retinas.
Their whole set was great, but nothing compared to the full live version of ‘Head On/Pill’. This was a truly mind bending performance of strobe lights, energetic musicianship, and endurance. The moshpit turned into a churning sea, and you had to remind yourself throughout the entire sixteen minute performance that yes, this is still all the one song.
At the end of the night, I left the building and stepped out into the night air of Darlinghurst and tried to comprehend what I just witnessed.
And I couldn’t work out which was more real, the air I was breathing or the music world I had just glimpsed. That is what great psychedelic music is supposed to do to you: leave a sober attendee wondering if someone has spiked their water and a drug user feeling that, by comparison, LSD is pretty tame.