With a name as intricate as their live shows, it comes as no surprise that King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have shot up in popularity over the last few months. Releasing nine full-length studio albums in just six years, the seven-piece Aussie outfit have become the “go-to” boys for those craving some good old fashioned energetic fuzz. The crammed crowd of Albert Hall can barely contain its excitement to catch an honorary glimpse of the psych-rockers. When a stage has two drum kits, you know you’re in for a wild ride.
Both drinks and bodies go flying as King Gizzard break into ‘Rattlesnake’- the opener of ninth studio album Flying Microtonal Banana that’s become a resounding fan-favourite. Trippy visuals whirl around the stained glass windows as extended guitar riffs transport those present into a captivated trance. Sporting denim shorts and his famous banana yellow guitar, lead singer Stu MacKenzie is on fire with his renowned head banging – his shirt slowly getting more and more saturated with sweat as the song’s eight minutes progress.
The plodding basslines of new numbers ‘Doom City’ and ‘Billabong Valley’ are the perfect backdrop for Cook Craig and Joey Walker’s screeching riffs. ‘People-Vultures’ is similarly hectic, delivering a killer rock ’n’ roll hook that summons up a frenzied mosh pit. Multi-instrumentalists as well as revered songwriters, the seven swap and change places regularly – utilising their three guitars and two synths to the utmost degree. ‘Tiring’ isn’t the word.
King Gizzard bring along a host of new influences every time you meet them. Their O2 Ritz show last year saw the guys channel prog-rock titans Rush, with songs rolling into one another; this time around, they’re more like Black Sabbath’s little brother. ‘Anoxia’ in particular sounds like ‘Iron Man’, its gruelling metal riffs menacing and ferocious. It’s a step away from the surf-rock material of the band’s early days that’s so cherished amongst fans, myself included – but this new era of King Gizzard is anything but a disappointment.
They tear through the setlist, checking off ‘Gamma Knife’ and latest single ‘Lord of Lightening’ along the way. When the opening notes of ‘Robot Stop’ hit, the guy in front of me throws down his shirt wrestler style, throwing his head back into a scream. “We’re gonna play some new stuff” MacKenzie shouts to cheers, and they rip into parts two and three of ‘Altered Beast’ – a fifteen minute medley from upcoming tenth album Murder of the Universe that sounds vaguely like when George Harrison started his love affair with the sitar.
‘Cellophane’, from 2014’s seminal album I’m In Your Mind Fuzz, is arguably the highlight of the night – matched closely by ‘The River’ that wraps up the set. There’s mass chants for their return, but the fast-paced outfit have no time for encores. King Gizzard have always been an ambitious bunch; they’ve confirmed they’ll release a grand total of five albums this year. It’s an ambitious feat – but if they bring half the energy to it that they bring to their onstage shows, there’s absolutely no need to worry.