The perverse aural assaults of guitar-wielding lunatics, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, are laced with enough reverb and distortion to leave your ears ringing with their residual haunts for weeks.
Add to the picture a raucous crowd, energised by a free Sunday barbecue, and it’s highly likely that you’re also going to be nursing a few bruises. But when the battle wounds are healed, you’ll still be fondly reminiscing about the events that caused them.
Stepping onto stage twenty minutes after their scheduled start time, the band continues to casually pass another fifteen as they mess around with their equipment, until finally busting into “12 Bar Bruise”, the title track from their recent debut album.
The limited space on The Tote’s tiny stage poses an obstacle for any band with more than three members, but stuffing in seven hyperactive, pelvis-thrusting lizard wizards, a centralised drumkit, and a jungle of tangled guitar leads, seems like an invitation for disaster.
Expertly dismissing a fumbled start as if it’s nothing, the summery riff of “Black Tooth” is swamped by three competing guitars and an endless barrage of recycled Thee Oh Sees yelps, whilst maracas act as makeshift drumsticks.
Meanwhile, the combination of five singers (shouters) and an immeasurable number of vocal effects sees the lyrics disappear into a hazy wash of noise. Yet, “Black Tooth” is so intrinsically catchy that it effortlessly retains its upbeat appeal, despite the chaos.
Lead vocalist Stu McKenzie grabs the rafters at the top of the stage and swings across the crowd. With his tongue hanging from the side of his mouth, his guitar flails wildly around his body and propels him into a perfectly executed landing.
Theremin master, Eric Moore, draws circles with his hip movements, whilst harmonica connoisseur, Ambrose Kenny-Smith, succumbs to the claustrophobia of the stage and regularly dips into the crowd.
Proving that King Gizzard are more than just purveyors of well-structured noise, “Bloody Ripper” delivers an earnest chorus, with the eager punters effectively sinking their teeth into an informal sing-along.
“Willoughby’s Beach” is accompanied by a daring display of acrobatics from McKenzie, who dangles lazily from the rafters, before settling precariously atop the drumkit. The altitude poses no obstacle for his vocal duties, as he bends down towards the microphone (which is quite a distance away), and engages in a battle of balance with himself that proves to be a well-received visual condiment atop an already densely-flavoured musical feast.
A Jay Reatard cover is so franticly paced and loaded with distortion that it’s over before it can be determined specifically which track it is, while “Dead Beat” is simply psychotic. It’s hard to believe that
As effervescent and intoxicating as a pool of spilt champagne, and just as dangerous as the smashed bottle it’s flowing from, King Gizzard and the Lizard never fail to deliver what they’ve promised. You might end up with a headache and a few shallow cuts, but that’s all anaesthetised by the fun times and the bloody good tunes.