Australia’s King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is a group who triumphantly carries a strong psychedelic influence along with aspects of indie, and recently thrash metal, on their 15 total albums released in just under ten years. People unfamiliar with King Gizzard may see this as rushing the musical process, but this isn’t necessarily the case with King Gizzard.
The band released five albums in 2017 alone. The first being Flying Microtonal Banana in February and ending with Gumboot Soup in December, but the two albums are contrasted so much that its almost impossible to find similarities. Flying Microtonal Banana is pure psychedelia with heavy use of guitar and fast for the most part. It even contained arguably their most popular song “Rattlesnake.” On the other hand, Gumboot Soup is a music soup of its own with a ridiculous amount of ingredients. King Gizzard is obviously an acquired taste, but what I didn’t realize until I found myself walking down a line of fans stretching roughly four or five blocks outside of Chicago's Aragon Ballroom on Saturday, August 24 was King Gizzard is a popular acquired taste.
After the prolonged wait to get inside, I made my way through the masses to catch Stonefield, a female stoner metal group, who was already performing. Stonefield’s deep bass line could be felt through the air of the venue’s three standing levels and was accompanied perfectly by the drummer’s sharp vocals. O.R.B. had a similar stoner metal vibe, but the lead vocalist’s reverb almost blended into the thick, heavy riffs from the guitarist. There seemed to be a strong Black Sabbath influence with O.R.B. but sounding much slower than Sabbath. Both opening acts were a perfect match to King Gizzard’s newest release Infest the Rats’ Nest, and that’s exactly how Gizzard would transition into their set.
The rat skull from King Gizzard’s newest album cover became the only light inside the cavernous venue, spawning the yells of everyone inside. King Gizzard jumped right into “Self-Immolate” as bottles of water flew across the room. Small crowds of security guards made their way to the front as they tried catching the fleet of crowd surfers, rolling to the front like parts on an assembly line. Gizzard’s crowd didn’t tire at throughout the night, and neither did lead vocalist Stu Mackenzie as he bent and stretched in his mysterious, renowned ways familiar to long-time Gizzard fans. Also, if you know the song “Rattlesnake,” then trust me when I say the song has a whole other feel to it when 5,000 people are screaming the lyrics all at once.
My favorite moment from the entire show came later that night. I watched the crowd bop their heads along to the electronic beat of "Cyboogie," a rather calm and experimental song by King Gizzard. Then the entire crowd took a drastic turn right when the drum line from “Planet B” followed the sci-fi sounds causing venue-wide chaos to ensue once again. I loved seeing how many people could appreciate dramatically contrasting music by the same artist. This shows dedication to the act and if there’s one thing for certain, it’s that King Gizzard fans must be some of the most dedicated fans on Earth. After finally having the privilege to witness King Gizzard’s crowd-pleasing live performance, it didn’t surprise me to hear several people talking afterward about catching more than one of their upcoming dates this fall either.