King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard review – saving the world with psych-rock monsters

Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow
The Australian band, who have released 15 albums in seven years, show off an ear-splitting range from Steely Dan grooves to Slayer-style thrash

‘Population exodus, there is no planet B!” roars longhair-in-chief Stu Mackenzie over flaming riffage on a jagged Gibson Holy Explorer guitar. Infest the Rats’ Nest, the 15th album in seven years by the chameleonic Australians King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, unpredictably saw them go thrash metal, and adopt a lyrical sensibility that might be deemed “sci-fi eco-consciousness”. Later in tonight’s show, their frontman will shower the crowd with liquid squirted from between his teeth – after swigging from a reusable drinking bottle. Green is the new black.

Welcome to “the Gizzverse”, as fans call the freaky galaxy orbiting this shape-shifting Melbourne seven-piece: a swirl of memes, mixes, videos, discussions and other content in the digital sphere and, in real life, a tumble of sweaty moshing and crowdsurfing. It’s a broad church for guitar music fans – headbangers, stoners, math rock nerds and more – and a place where hearing protection should be worn at all times.

Kaleidoscopic visuals are a given. Two drummers dressed in bright red with matching kits, playing in tight synchronisation, create their own trippy-hypnotic optic. Keyboardist Ambrose Kenny-Smith is liable to break out some exclamatory percussion at any moment, or, as he does on Altered Beast II, some bluesy distorted harmonica.

At a work rate of 2.1 albums a year, it won’t take King Gizzard long to visit every planet in the rock firmament. Rattlesnake is a galloping eight-minute garage-psych monster, Mars for the Rich homages Slayer, but if the smooth groove of Sense is any measure then King Gizzard’s next move could just as easily be inspired by Steely Dan. They’re the ultimate post-genre jam band, a Grateful Dead for the streaming generation. If Greta Thunberg can’t save the planet within the next 50 years, someone else has to – if only so these restless rockers can make another 100 records.


Malcolm Jack

The GuardianTramp

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