Live: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard @ Northcote Social Club – 28/08/13

As I entered the Northcote Social Club band room with a friend, I noticed two things: the rank smell of unwashed party shirts and beer stained carpet, and the lack of movement within the audience when listening to the delicious licks of Nick Allbrook—the former bassist of Tame Impala and current lead vocalist for Pond. The stark contrast from the moment I walked in until the point of King Gizzard smashing out a few belters from their first album was rather ridiculous. The seven-piece from Melbourne entered the stage with a six-pack of Coopers Pale Ale and some tired looking faces. I’m not sure if that came with a few big nights or an exhausting tour, but once singer Stu Mackenzie announced the band were going to play their new album all the way through, the place warmed up and away they went.While they have clearly extended their musical chops from their first LP 12 Bar Bruise — which captured their Deniliquin roots and their fun-loving attitude —, they haven’t lost any of their trademark relaxed approach as they mused through the unreleased Float Along – Fill your Lungs. Opening the album is “Head On/Pill”, a 16-minute epic that perfectly illustrates their progression from raucous Aussie rock to a more seasoned experimental act.The album isn’t without its rough diamonds, reminiscent of their early work, but a rotating mix of backing and lead vocalists allowed each song to develop and thrive in front of a room of random strangers. McKenzie remarked at one point, “how odd it is to have people we don’t know coming to our gigs”; he’ll definitely have to get used to it. The energy of the audience became too much for McKenzie at one stage, as he leapt into the pit for just a taste of the sweet nectar we were enjoying below.We cannot forget the rest of the band, however, with their synchronised drummers, versatile guitarists — including the sitar during the opening number — and plenty of whimsical distortion. The band has been playing together for many moons and their hazy mix of psychedelic reflection and carefree jamming will prove extremely infectious for even the most casual of music listeners.The second half of their set was dedicated to their debut LP. The aforementioned stillness completely disappeared as the band room absolutely lit up for tracks including “Muckracker”, “Elbow” and the classic “Footy Footy”, a popular choice among punters. As the mosh flailed to and fro, the heart of Australian music could be heard to be beating kilometres away and all because of this humble seven-piece from country NSW. At least until they wrapped up proceedings. To sum up their no-nonsense approach, they didn’t partake in the irrelevant encore ritual because they’d already given the audience enough.If you think their work sounds good on your generic MP3 listening device (don’t want to give anyone a free advertising boost here) then you simply have to see them live. Their contagious love of live performance and obvious talent makes them one of the most exciting current prospects in Australian music.      by William Balme

September 5th 2013
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