Gig Recap: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard @ The Royale

Shouts rang out as the psych-garage sound of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard dominated The Royale on Sunday night. The explosive, 90-minute show carried the Australian band into week two of their North American tour, promoting their album “Flying Microtonal Banana,” released in late February.

Having unfortunately missed Stonefield’s opening set, I was anxious to dive into the prog-rock realm of ORB, another Australian band accompanying King Gizzard on the road. Between gritty bass guitar ripping through the room, lightning guitar riffs accentuated by an array of distortion pedals, and vocals well-suited to Seattle in 1992, they were a delight. Their crooning melodies painted a picture of blues and psychedelia at once, an apt prelude to what was to come.

It was easy to sense the mood of Gizzard’s music just by watching the crowd as the musicians filed onto the stage. The spectators’ astounding energy radiated in time with the abrasive, hypnotic opening chords. And so began the articulation of a hugely colorful array of sounds—musical textures that you could feel hanging in the air above you and enveloping the bodies in the pit. From dark, deep cutting bass lines, to shimmery, warm guitar riffs, the band spanned the full range of their sound, embellished with harmonica solos from Ambrose Smith and supported by the dual percussion of Eric Moore and Michael Cavanaugh.

The constant ebb and flow of energy onstage kept the crowd literally on their toes, with sound blasting from every side, and surfers and stage divers in abundance. The band seemed unfazed, as if the pounding vigor of the audience were just a friend walking into an extended jam session. Themes would weave in and out, seamless—just as you thought the song was over, the music found its way to circle back.

Each tune corresponded to colorful projections, coordinated as if emanating directly from the instruments themselves: television static, digital mountain roads, cartoon alligators, a giant snake during the recent single “Rattlesnake.” The charming visual chaos was just another reflection of the band’s the whimsical and complex sound.

Having played mostly new releases, Gizzard closed their set with the relentless “Am I in Heaven?” from their fifth album “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz.” Each sonic moment felt too short; the audience drank up every second. In a few frantic heartbeats (or were they drumbeats?), the band skipped off and the fluorescent lights came up.

King Gizzard’s latest album, Flying Microtonal Banana, is out now via Flightless/ATO Records. You can find it, along with their complete discography, here.

Sophia Higgins is the Music Director of the Record Hospital. She can be found on her weekly Wednesday morning show from 3:30-5am, and in your mind fuzz.