written by ewan blacklaw (@ewanblacklaw), photos by Laura Rai (@AuralAir)
Following their previous year of madness, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have hit the road: with five-full-length studio albums dropped in 2017, the band have plenty of new material to play, as well as larger crowds to play to after their rise in popularity following the mammoth year of releases. They are currently doing a lap of the UK and Ireland before making their way through Europe and then on to North America. After sold out shows at London’s Brixton Academy and the Manchester Academy, King Gizzard powered on to Dublin, to play yet another sold out show.
Prior to the gig, a packed house of excited Gizz fans, reaching up to the two balconies of the Olympia Theatre, waited patiently for support band Mild High Club. The two bands collaborated on Sketches of Brunswick East which saw a more jazz-focused sound emerge that had also been heard on 2015’s acoustic album; Paper Mâché Dream Balloon. This, merged with Mild High Club’s dreamy chilled out sound, made a very laid back, yet well carried out and produced album which no doubt lead to a symbiotic relationship that resulted in fans of one becoming fans of the other – in other words, they were the ideal act to set the stage for tonight’s proceedings.
When the American alt outfit came on and plaid their dreamy brand of jazz-infused indie rock, they did not disappoint. The performance made for some laid back, easy listening, with some of their better, more well know tracks such as Homage, Kokopelli and Tessellation really sounding great live. The only issue with the performance was some questionable mixing which, while not an issue for most of the set, did cause an abrasive synth sound on Windowpane, a real shame considering it’s one of their best tracks. Thankfully it didn’t put a dampener on what was an overall positive experience, kicked off by a smashing opener in the form of Skiptracing which got the reaction it truly deserved from a crowd who was now more than ready for the rest of the night.
The post Mild High Club break saw excitement rise, as well as the noise level inside the venue, as fans grew anxious in anticipation of King Gizzard. This excitement was released gradually as members of the band came on stage to do soundcheck themselves, which took away some of the drama, but did create some nice moments of interaction between the fans.
Then it was time; the audience was pumped up and raring to go as the seven members of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard made their way on to the stage, with some abstract digital imagery behind them providing an intense visual experience. The intensity was broken with frontman Stu’s back and forth with the crowd, before starting the opener, Digital Black. Whilst sceptical at first about the choice of song, any doubts were quickly eradicated by the heavy vocals and screeching guitar plunging the audience back into chaos, with the crowd reacting as hoped – by going absolutely wild. The heaviness of the opener was carried on, as the band played two more tracks from their most metal-inspired album, Murder Of The Universe. Whilst some of the spoken word sections from the album broke this up, Lord of Lightning quickly mustered up another fluster.
After performing Greenhouse Heat Death, the band stopped momentarily to switch to their microtonal instruments which pointed to only one set being played, instead of splitting the show in two like they had done in London and Manchester. This was meant that there may not be as many songs played, which was obviously not ideal for the Irish fans. This was not seen as a downer though, as King Gizzard powered on, playing some of their hits such as Nuclear Fusion and Sleep Drifter which continued to ramp up the crowd. The band then slowed things down with Stu swapping for Ambrose and hopping on the keys and Alex from Mild High Club reappearing to grab the Flying Microtonal Banana guitar for The Book off of the collaborative album. This was then followed by one of the peak moments of the set, which was repeatedly demanded by a voice in the crowd, as Rattlesnake was belted out by Stu, Joey and Ambrose. The song summed up everything good about the performance; from the consistency of each member to play continuously, seldom making a mistake. The pounding beat coming from both sets of rums, the hypnotic baselines, melodic guitars masked behind some wild effects and the vocals that seem to fill every venue that they play.
After a brief break, the performance then took a step into the more prog-rock side of the band’s discography, playing tacks off of Polygondwanaland. From this section of the performance, Crumbling Castle was a major highlight moment (or ten), as well as the brilliant transition into The Fourth Colour that brought a new appreciation to the song. The Gizz then went on to play three tracks from their 2016 release, Nonagon Infinity, which is known to be a favourite of fans and critics alike. This provided yet another highlight to an already spectacular performance, with the crowd going crazy for Robot Stop in particular.
To finish off the band played The River from an older album of theirs, Quarters. Whilst this song is great, it feels as though a track such as Head On/Pill would have been that extra bit special, as well as being a classic Gizz track in the eyes of fans. The ending was nonetheless great, also featuring a surprise performance of God is in the Rhythm, from the same album, which was apparently the song’s full band live debut, even though it was released back in 2015. Despite not being as well known as some of their other tunes, it was a pleasant surprise that went down well.
The intensity of the performance made time fly, with a great Irish crowd providing the atmosphere needed for King Gizzard to deliver such a legendary performance. Looking back, the gig was a hyper-rollercoaster through the band’s various sounds and personas, morphing from metal to 70’s prog-rock to jazz and then back to the psych-rock that the band is most well-known for effortlessly. Although there are some tracks that fans may feel they missed out, it would be impossible to fit all of their best into one gig after such a prolific year. After seeing a performance like that, it would be hard not to get excited for what the band has in store for 2018, as well as gaining a new appreciation for each of the album released by King Gizzard, whether it was last year or some of their older records.