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Archive for the ‘King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’ Category

[ATTENDED: August 30, 2019] King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

I’ve already stated that I’m really happy for King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard that they are finding so much success here.  I mean in Philly, they jumped from a 1,500 to a 2,500 capacity venue.  Plus, they got to headline a concert in Central Park.

One of the guys in line next to me had been to Central Park the night before as well.

But I couldn’t believe the line to get in the place when I arrived 30 minutes before the opening band was supposed to go on.

Turns out most people are there for the merch.  The merch line was insanely long.  And, when the show was over–I have never seen this before–they had a hand written sign that said “all King Gizzard shirts and posters are sold, why not try our vinyl?”

Not band for a bunch of guys from Australia with a goofy name and a completely unpinnable style.  Indeed, they have released two albums this year and one was a full-on blues boogie type pf album and their most recent release was a blistering heavy metal album in the spirit of early 80s thrash.  And they played songs from both of those albums (as well as ballads and just about everything else). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 30, 2019] ORB

After the great stoner/groove vibe of Stonefield I still wasn’t If I had missed ORB or not.  We had heard a band playing while we were waiting on line, but it seemed too early for the opening act to end.

On the other hand, ORB went on first in Central Park the night before.

Well, we didn’t need to worry because after a very brief window, ORB came out and continued with the stoner/groove vibe.  They impressed me by adding a whole lot of prog elements to their songs–time changes, keyboard solos, extra long drum fills, nifty riffs and long songs. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 30, 2019] Stonefield

I was very excited to see King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard again.  I was a little less excited that they were playing at Franklin Music Hall (formerly The Electric Factory).  I’ve had some pretty bad show experiences there and the venue is fairly narrow and quite long.  (Although good for KGATLW for moving from the 1,200 capacity Union Transfer to the 2,500 capacity Franklin (not sure if they sold out)).

My worst experiences were with parking–huge lines, high fees.  Then I discovered you can park for free on the streets a couple blocks away, so that made things much better.  But those parking issues often meant that I got in the building later than I wanted to.  For Nick Cave I was so far back I was next to a very ill-placed bar in the middle of the floor.  Franklin has removed that bar, thankfully.

So, I made sure to arrive super early (for me).  Doors opened at 7:30, show at 8:30.   I arrived at 8 and the line to get in was around the building!  Usually people don’t arrive all that early for shows–they blow off the openers, which is fine by me.  But this crowd was nuts.  Turns out Franklin is REALLY slow about checking people in.  Not as bad as the abyssal Starland Ballroom, but pretty bad.  I did not get into the building until 8:25.  Which is unbelievable.  We also heard a live band playing while we were on line, which we all assumed was the opening band going on early (it wasn’t, I have no idea what it was). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 1, 2019] The Murlocs

I was aware of The Murlocs as being the spin-off band from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith.  I’d listened to them a few times but hadn’t really listened intently.

Then I saw that they were playing at Underground Arts (in the Black Box, one of my favorite venues no less).  I thought it would be a great opportunity to see 2/7 of KGATLW (Craig Cook plays in both bands) before seeing KGATLW again later this year (probably from much further away).

I had also seen just the day before the show that two other members of KGATLW (Stu Mackenzie and Eric Moore) were on the East Coast (a picture of them hanging out with Trey Anastasio(!) has surfaced), so I thought there was chance that they might come down and join Ambrose on stage (they didn’t).  Although I learned that Stu and Eric joined the band for the encore cover of Hot Chocolate’s “Every 1’s a Winner” the night before in NYC (always at the wrong show).

I assumed that this show wouldn’t be all that well attended.  The King Gizzard shows are always popular, but I figured it was a side project by the “second singer” so how crowded would it be?  (more…)

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[ATTENDED, May 1, 2019] Moonwalks

Moonwalks is a three-piece from Detroit comprised of Jake Dean on guitar and vocals, Kate Gutwald on bass and Kerrigan Pearce on drums.

They play deceptively simple garage rock songs.  Their songs are retro and fuzzy, but they have a number of guitar and vocal styles and sounds in their quiver.

And deceptively simple because each song has a twist or turn in it which prevents it from being a simple three-chord, two-minute rocker.

I enjoyed their entire set and have checked out and enjoyed their bandcamp site.

Although as far as I can tell, none of the songs they played are up there (That doesn’t seem right, though).

I also loved the look of the band.  Jake’s glittery lamé shirt, Kate’s moon and stars themed top and Kerrigans’s possibly velvet top (they must have been very hot up there).

I’m not sure why, but Jake reminded me of Thurston Moore–possibly for his look but something about his presence and vocal delivery

I don’t know any of the songs they played, but the first one which seemed to be about “never coming back” set the tone for their set and it was solid right from the start.

They were a perfect band to open for the garage rock Murlocs, but they would work for just about anyone. I hope they go places, because they were really good.

 

 

 

 

 

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SOUNDTRACK: KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD-Live from Gizzfest (December 1, 2018).

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are such a big deal in their native Australia, that they have created their own festival called, naturally, Gizzfest.  It began in 2015 as a touring festival with a dozen or so bands.  2018’s festival was only one day (in Melbourne) and some kind soul recorded it and posted the KGATLW set online.

The set lasted for about an hour and 40 minutes and touched on nearly every release.  It even included a few never before played live tracks from Eyes Like the Sky!

The recording quality isn’t great and you can hear a lot of people talking through the set.  It sounds like it might be pretty far away from the speakers as well.  Having said that, the music isn’t hard to hear (it’s not like it was recorded at a low level) it’s just not very clean.  Having said THAT, it’s not like KGATLW are an especially clean band, since they are often shrouded in fuzz, echo, distortion and more.

The songs are not chronologically played.  In fact, they start right in the middle with I’m in Your Mind Fuzz.  They play the first two tracks, “I’m in Your Mind” and “I’m Not in Your Mind” seamlessly together, including the nifty solos throughout “Not.”

But they do not play the third song (which segues on the album).  Rather, they jump right to Murder of the Universe with “The Balrog.”  It’s an intense start to the show and after a little breather they play the far slower and very delightful “Stressin'” from Oddments.  Unfortunately, the recording is very quiet and more muddy for this song.  Not sure what happened there.

But things get much louder very quickly, as they jump to their then newest album Gumboot Soup.  They play only one song from the record, the totally rocking “The Great Chain of Being.”  To much celebration, they jump into Polygonswannaland’s “Crumbling Castle.”  All the elements are there and they sound great playing it (even if the audio quality isn’t great).  The song segues perfectly into the album’s final track, “The Fourth Colour.”

After all of that rocking, they slow things down but stick with Polygondwannaland with the groovy “Deserted Dunes Welcome Weary Feet” which segues into the middle section of that albums’s “Castle in the Air.”

Ambrose gets to the mic to say they’re gonna to do some silly stuff now.

“Dead-Beat” goes all the way back to their first EP, Willoughby’s Beach.  The really dumb lyrics “pull my finger and punch my face” are so much clearer here than on the album.  I wish I could hear if people are singing along.  Then they play a track from their first album 12 Bar Bruise “Cut Throat Boogie.”  This one is sung by Ambrose and features lots of his wailing harmonica.  Ambrose gets another lead vocal on another old-school one, Float Along–Fill Your Lung‘s “Let Me Mend the Past.”  It’s a respite of slower rock n roll with some nice piano accompaniment.

They play a surprising “Tezeta” from Mild High Club.  It’s slow and groovy with nice clear sound, although I can’t hear if there are any groovy backing vocals or not.

After these slower moments the band roars back with a wild “Rattlesnake” from Flying Microtonal Banana which whips the crowd into a sing-along frenzy.

And then they pause to introduce their special guest: Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s dad, Broderick Smith, writer and narrator of the Eyes Like the Sky album. Broderick does a great recitation and the band plays these rarely played Western songs perfectly: “Eyes Like the Sky,” “The Year of Our Lord” and “The Raid.”

They jump in with the opening to the jazzy wonderfulness of Quarters‘ “The River,” but they only play about 3 minutes of it, because as the band is quieting down during the slow bit (down down down) with the falsetto “a river” backing vocals, Stu starts singing the lyrics to “Wah Wah.”  For a few beats, the “a river” backing vocals continue, which is pretty cool.  “Wah Wah” rips louder and louder and as the song starts feedbacking out, the super fast drums of “Road Train” begin.  For this is the Nonagon Infinity portion of the show.    “Road Train” is the last song on Nonagon infinity so its fun that they do some nonagon infinity chants and then continue with “Robot Stop,” the first song of the infinite loop album.   It’s full of that spiraling guitar and wild harmonica solos.  But rather than seguing into the next song on the record they jump to the super catchy “Gamma Knife.”

The concert more or less ends with “Some Context,” the 46 second riff that’s a transitional piece on Murder.  That’s how they ended the show when I saw them.  It’s a great riff, too.  But they weren’t quite ready to end the show.

After some quiet, they began their 16 minute epic “Head On/Pill”  This version is certainly slower than the record, but it is still trippy.  It’s still got those soaring riffs and chanted vocals.  Things quiet down to almost a whisper around three minutes in, but by 4 minutes, the whole band kicks in for a truly rocking jam.  After nine minutes, they start a medley that begins with a rather quiet “Alter Me” which is more of a jam than the song.  Some more jamming leads to the opening of “Am I in Heaven?”  They end more or less with “Cellophane” which everyone can chant along to.

It’s basically a career spanning set in which they play songs from all of their fourteen releases (in FIVE YEARS), except for their folky Paper Mâché Dream Balloon.

Although the sound quality isn’t great, this is a fantastic show in front of a very happy hometown crowd.  When I saw them back in 2018 they focused primarily on the five albums they had released the year before with six songs from Murder of the Universe, 4 from Polygondwannaland, and 3 each  from Gumboot Soup and Flying Microtonal Banana.  I love that they can play such diverse sets–playing new songs for people who haven’t heard any of them and then playing a whole career’s worth for the locals.

How their sets can stay under two hours when they have that much music is still a mystery.  And yet no one leaves disappointed.

[READ: March 1, 2019] Spill Zone 2

I enjoyed Book 1 but I really didn’t like this part.  For some reason I thought this book had at least three parts.  But it seems that it has ended with book two which makes it all the more disappointing.

I didn’t even find the art to be evocative or charming.  It just felt kind of ugly an over the top.

As the book opens Addison goes to her art dealer and gets a million dollars. Of course she went to the buyer directly, cutting out the sketchy middleman.  And he is not happy about that, so he goes to the North Koreans with some information about Addison and her pictures.  Of course they have no time for bit players like him.

Meanwhile back in North Korea, Don Jae had entered the Spill Zone there and was having visions about the one in America.  He knew he had to go there.  He winds up visting the art buyer.  He gives her some of the radioactive dust so she can truly see what’s going on in the pictures she’s buying. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD-Gumboot Soup (2017).

At the beginning of 2017, KGATLW promised that the would release five albums in the year.  They released four and as the year drew to an end it looked like we might not get that promised fifth release.  And then on the last day of the year, Dec 31, they released Gumboot Soup.

Surely this one–squeezed in on the last day of the year–must be a mishmash of the crap that they didn’t put on their other records, right?  Or maybe acoustic versions of existing songs?  Or something equally lame?

Indeed, not.  For KGATLW are nothing if not full of ideas.

Their previous albums were thematic.  This one is certainly more of a collection of songs rather than an album.  And yet, this collection is not crap.  Mackenzie described thee album as a “place for us to put a lot of different ideas that we’re trying to experiment with in the song, rather than within the whole record. And for me, some of my favorite songs of the year are on [Gumboot]. It’s more song-oriented than album-oriented.”

So the album isn’t unified, but that diversity somehow makes it even more compelling.

“Beginner’s Luck” is a beautiful sweet delicate song.  The opening is quiet guitar and the clearest vocals yet from Stu.  It’s a dreamy, gentle song, as if they were influenced by the Mild High Club sessions to write a pretty, retro pop song.  There’s great bass on this song as well and I love that Ambrose adds some lead vocals to the chorus.  There’s some lovely flute and backing vocals.  As the song reaches its end it gets louder and more distorted with a wild wah wah guitar solo and the whole band joining in to rock.  This seems to mock the sweetness of the beginning.

It’s followed by “Greenhouse Heat Death” which reintroduces some microtonal melodies and a rumbling groove.  This song is an environmental song with Stu singing in his darker, distorted voice about the degradation of the Earth (from the Earth’s point of view–“my house has fried, all life has died”).

“Barefoot Desert” comes out of that darkness with a wonderfully bright song–flutes, some terrific bass lines, and Ambrose’s always-chipper vocals.  The riff is dynamite too.  There’s even a very Beatles-esque middle instrumental section before the song lopes off again.

“Muddy Water” is a really catchy fast-paced stomper with some call and response vocals (I love at the end when Ambrose starts singing “I prefer the muddy water” back to Stu).  The riffing is great and it all feels very reckless, like they (or we) can’t stop.  The introduction of (two) saxophones is pretty unusual and a nifty twist on their sound.

“Superposition” is a soft almost robotically smoothed out song.  Everything is high and floaty–the flute, the vocals, the bass.  It’s a pretty different sound for them, although they maintain the vocals-follow-the-musical-melody that they have perfected.  And then of course, they have to upend the pleasantness with some crazy skronking saxophone solos in the middle of the song.  But even those seem almost distant and like they are not exactly part of the song.

“Down the Sink” is a fantastic song that sounds very much unlike anything they’ve done before.  There’s some cool funk and 70s inflections on the riffs and sounds.  The chorus “the street is where people live, the street is where people die” has a fantastic 70s, almost blaxploitation, film soundtrack feel.   I’d love to hear them explore more of this sound.

“The Great Chain of Being” is one of the outright heaviest things they’re recorded, with big heavy riffs and growling vocals.  It’s a bit out of place on this record, but it rocks too wonderfully to complain about.  It clearly seems like it could have been on Murder of the Universe, but maybe they just enjoyed rocking out and wanted to write a new song.

“The Last Oasis” has a delightful cocktail lounge feel, with vibes, languid bass and Ambrose’s gentle vocals.   I love that it gets hazier and sounds more and more like it’s being submerged as the song goes on.  Meanwhile, “All is Known” returns to them microtonal sounds of Banana for the main riff and heft of this pumping song.

One of my favorite tracks is the delicate “I’m Sleeping In.”  I love the interesting and satisfying bass lines that runs through this gentle song about sleeping:

I know within my body
I need rest from muscle ache
I really need a break
So I’m sleepin’ in, in

There’s some quiet harmonica and a really compressed sound.  It seems like sleep will never come because of some random noises that come in to disrupt the chill feeling.  Although by the end, the tape slows down and sleep has finally won.  The disc ends with “The Wheel” a groovy psychedelic track with wavery keys and flute. It’s the least dynamic song on the record but it feels nicely stretched out and trippy.

So the track order definitely makes this feel like an odds and ends assortment.  I’m not sure if they could have made a heavy side and a trippy side, or if it’s just more fun to have this batch of oddments together in the soup of gumboot.

The good thing is there’s not a bad song on it and it really covers every imaginable style.

After five albums in year, the only thing to do was to release no records in 2018 and tour the world.  But 2019 suggests a new disc in on the horizon.  I can’t wait.

[READ: March 3, 2019] “The Arithmetic of Common Ground”

This story had an interesting conceit which I feel it didn’t fully follow through on.  It posits that children have commonalities and looks at what estimated percentage of those commonalities they need to have for friendships to work.  I enjoyed the way it seemed almost like a technical report in the beginning.

At the opening, we see a couple meeting.

Born within six months of one another, within the same medium-sized city, and of comparable socio-economic class, they automatically overlap somewhere between 33 to 35 percent. Make the city Calgary and make them both only children who—as a consequence of their solitudes—have both grown up somewhat unsociable and somewhat bookish. If both dutifully attended music lessons in guitar and piano to complement their school work, their common ground might go as high as 40 to 55 percent.

Despite being different by some 45 to 60 points, they share enough interests (musical) to meet, fall in love, get married and have a child: Benjamin.

But for group dynamics a simple Venn diagram does not suffice because each pairing is its own diagram.  The story proceeds to explore Benjamin and his friends. (more…)

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