With a glowing live reputation to live up to, Getintothis’ Chris Hughes sees King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard cast their spell over the Arts Club.
When King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard announced that they’d be delving into our mind fuzz at the Arts Club, we shivered in undeniable excitement. Their name has regularly (and quite rightly) drawn intrigued glances from all quarters, but despite the over-the-top-and-a-long-way-out-there name, their music is far from a gimmick. Hailing all the way from down under in Melbourne, the flamboyant seven-piece have taken their galaxy-melting sound all around the world, bending a few brains and delivering devilish dreams along the way. Social media gradually whirled into a frenzy, with some claiming their live show is ‘the best I’ve seen in years’ and ‘unmissable.’ No pressure then, lads.
We are met by an impressive queue outside despite arriving well before the first band, Aeroplane Flies High, are due on stage. Inside there is a mix of young, old, leather and paisley- and it’s far from full. We get the feeling that would change as the night went on. The first band on a night like this always face a daunting task- keeping the crowd hooked for bigger and better things whilst trying to win a few fans along the way. Aeroplane Flies High manage to do both pretty well, though they aren’t quite the noise fuzz-poppers they describe themselves to be. Their sound is closer to that of Deftones, half pounding riffs and two quarters slowly jangling guitar. Nothing new here then, but maybe the nineties sound of Sacramento is due a revival? Time will tell.
Next up is the hugely popular Strange Collective. Having previously supported psych-giants such as Night Beats and The Black Lips, the quartet are no stranger to hype. Despite having never released a studio record, the group have earned a cult following around the North-West and beyond. Lead singer Alex Wynne is modest though, and tells the crowd while taking to the stage that the headline act are ‘something else’. The anticipation is tangible.
Strange Collective really find their relentless rhythm a few tracks in, their own brand of neo-garage psych galloping over the herds of fans who head-bang in appreciation. Robbo is as tight as a bassist as you’re likely to find on the circuit, and Wynne’s far-off vocals duck and weave through each song. Slower and safer in parts, it’s when the band really push the boundaries of sound that they excel and display just why they’ve been tipped for big things. The band leave to Ali Horn’s screeching guitar feedback, and the venue is nearly full.
Those unsure what to expect from the main act are given a clue when two drum kits are set up at either side of the stage, and a keyboard complete with an electronic harmonica are wheeled out. This isn’t going to be your average rock’n’roll Friday.
King Gizzard finally take to the stage to thumping applause, bursting into an epic thirty-minute medley of three of their newest songs. They are a visual spectacle and their sound has it all- erratic wah-guitar, slow bass grooves, melodic synth and incredibly tight beats from two drummers who sound like recordings of each other.
It’s easy to see from this methodical-yet-mad showing why they’ve been compared to the likes of early Zappa, largely due to the tongue-in-cheek lyrics and high pitched vocals that border on comedic. They harken back to the avant-garde days of a Trout Mask Replica Captain Beefheart, but their steadier numbers have a breath of Foxygen in them.
Especially popular from this rush is the recent single Cellophane. Beginning with a kraut-bassline straight from the veins of Klaus Johan Grobe, the lusciously echo-saturated vocals bleed through and into some seriously searing harmonica solos. There’s no time to rest at the end of the odyssey though, and the seven-piece deliver a song as sexually soulful as anything by Curtis Mayfield or Stevie Wonder (yes, it’s possible!). We can’t help but feel that all that’s missing is a sax.
The band saved their best for last in the form of Hot Wax. A cosmic meld of garage, kraut-psych and straight up rock, this early hit has everybody up and down. This is as good as anything that the modern psychedelic scene has to offer, and we feel that Liverpool has been blessed with a visit from a band who would so easily fit into its own local scene.
Keep an eye on these guys. Having produced three albums in the last three years, they show a productivity that is pretty rare in many bands these days- especially when the songs are as complex as this. The band have done themselves a lot of favours with this, their latest tour, and you can bet they’ll be big names of the prog circuit for years to come. Let’s hope for an appearance at Liverpool Psych Fest 2015, eh?
Pictures by Getintothis Vicky Pea: