Rocky Horror Show

Genre-Hopping Aussies King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard to Descend on Rock City

22 July 19 words: Simon Wooldridge

It takes quite some energy to keep up with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. The prodigious genre-hopping Aussies – five albums released in 2017 alone – lead their fans on a merry dance through a range of musical styles from something approaching jazz to something approaching thrash metal. And more in between...

The Melbourne-based seven-piece will be doing their very original, very entertaining thing at Rock City on Monday 30 September.

Formed in 2010, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard draw their name partly from long since departed Doors’ front man Jim Morrison’s nickname, The Lizard King. They’re fronted by Stu Mackenzie, who in addition to vocal duties takes responsibility for, or perhaps dabbles with, the guitar, sitar, bass guitar, piano, keyboards, synthesizer, Mellotron, flute, saxophone, flute and clarinet. And a zuma, whatever a zuma is. He’s joined by Ambrose Kenny-Smith, Cook Craig, Eric Moore, Joey Walker, Lucas Skinner and Michael Cavanagh.

Forthcoming album Infest The Rats’ Nest, due for release on 16 August, has been compared to the likes of Slayer and Metallica. In an interesting departure – for even this less than predictable band – only three of King Gizz’s line-up play on Infest The Rats’ Nest. Previous album, Fishing For Fishes, is more in keeping with (most of) the sound they have evolved over the past near decade. It veers from psychedelic rock to something approaching jangly country-pop, and at times delivers a kind of Hall & Oates meets Creedence Clearwater Revival vibe. The album also dips into blues and soul with tracks like This Thing. Acarine, though, has elements of Canned Heat and even Underworld about it. King Gizz is an outfit very difficult to put in a box.

If there was a ‘breakthrough’ King Gizz album it was probably the first of their five in 2017, Flying Microtonal Banana, which opened with Rattlesnake, one of their more conventional ‘indie-rock’ numbers. It also features the haunting, bushranger ballad Billabong Valley. But they’re not really a ‘breakthrough’ kind of band. They do their own thing, leaving convention – even by music industry standards – very much to one side.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are at the forefront of a wave of talent coming out of Victoria in Australia – leading a charge that includes such diverse acts as Amyl and The Sniffers, Four Lions, Khan and Stone Djoser. They have attained ‘media darlings’ status in Australia in recent years – usually a sure-fire indicator that sooner or later they would also get savaged. But it hasn’t happened. Hyped to an almost irritating degree, they have delivered on others’ promises and continue to meet even quite wild expectations. This writer saw them command the attention of a discerning crowd in a small town outside Melbourne last year. Their Rock City visit promises to be one of the gigs of the year in Nottingham.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard play Rock City on Monday 30 September. 

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