Austin Psych Fest Live (Friday): King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

Hair-whipping Aussies pound like a tap dancing rhinoceros

On disc, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard revels in eclecticism, spraying its profligacy across pop, grunge, spaghetti western soundscapes, and whatever tweaks its fancy. The Melbourne septet’s Oddments offers proof. Live, however, the band wastes little time getting down to the entirely different business of feverishly rocking.

Boasting a lineup of three guitars, bass, two drum kits, and a harmonica player more interested in texture than fancy licks, the Lizard Wizard hardly possesses the tools to be subtle. At least onstage anyway. They didn’t bother showing off any studiousness for their first Stateside gig.

Photo by John Anderson

The opener reveled in jamming garage rock for a good 12 minutes, eschewing technique in favor of hitting a certain intensity and staying there by crossbreeding the Night Beats with Hawkwind. Featuring what would have been pretty harmonies if every vocal mic wasn’t distorted, “Sleepwalker” laid back the tempo to something more midrange for one of the band’s most accessible numbers.

The energy level leapt back into the red soon enough, pounding like a tap dancing rhinoceros and inspiring a mosh pit. When the 20-minute signal arrived, King Gizzard metaphorically shrugged and proceeded to fill up those 20 minutes with the stunning psych rock anthem “Head On/Pill.” Locked in a pitched battle for supremacy, reverb and volume deliberately muddying the mix with heated debate, the band built to a frenzy before drifting to a close.

Given the large crowd’s reaction, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard picked up more than a few new fans with its hair-whipping garage psych.

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King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Hawkwind, Night Beats, Austin Psych Fest 2014

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