King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, The Mild High Club, Sh-Shakes at Biltmore Cabaret

Monday 21st, September 2015 / 11:45
By Joshua Erickson
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard at Biltmore Cabaret. Photo: Sarah Whitlam

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard at Biltmore Cabaret.
Photo: Sarah Whitlam

September 1, 2015

VANCOUVER — In what turned out to be one of the most hyped shows in Vancouver of 2015 thus far, Australian psych-punk luminaries King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard played to a packed Biltmore and delivered a frenzied, energetic, and technically proficient set to an ecstatic audience. Forming in 2010, and boasting the most fun band name to ever exist, the seven-piece Melbourne band has already released six full-length albums, with a seventh to arrive in November, and two EPs—making them one of most prolific bands in recent memory. Despite this, their recent trip to Vancouver was their first, and it won’t be one to soon forget.

Opening the night was Vancouver’s very own garage-psych rockers Sh-Shakes. Playing to a respectably sized early crowd, the band owned the stage with energy, bombast, and swagger, winning over the crowd right away. Following them was L.A. based Mild High Club, which turned out to be a very appropriate band name. Playing a set of druggy, dreamy, chilled out stoner-folk songs, including a Neil Young cover, The Mild High Club got the heads bobbing while the anticipation for King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard to hit the stage grew.

In a remarkably quick stage changeover, the seven members of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (or King Gizz, as Aussie’s affectionately refer to them as) had two drummers, three guitarists, a bassist, and a dedicated harmonica player. The sight of that alone excited the audience and by the end of the band’s first song—which was actually a medley of three of their own songs mixed together and included a flute solo by singer/guitarist/frontman Stu Mackenzie—the audience was going WILD. From this point on, the rest of the show was a mess of flying bodies, moshing, jumping, hugging, and singing along.

King Gizzard is really a band that hast it all; each musician has technical chops, a stage presence that boarders stoic and unhinged, a diverse variety of songs that are loosely connected under the broad banner of “psychedelic,” and an adoring audience that will go wild at the drop of a dime. While frontman Stu Mackenzie does a formidable job in his position, it was when harmonica player/singer Ambrose Kenny Smith took the front of the stage that the crowd really let their love show. Getting right into the crowd, Smith and his harmonica are a huge part of what has given the band its larger-than-life reputation so early in their career.

In a show full of wild highlights, it would have been impossible for the band to top their closing number. Ending the show with a seamless blend of the first four tracks off of their most popular and acclaimed album I’m In Your Mind Fuzz, King Gizzard got every last ounce of energy out of the audience as they plowed through their 20-minute finale.

As the show ended, you could see and hear crowd members finding their scattered friends and raving about the show they just saw. Having been there, it is easy to understand why. King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard are just beginning their global conquest and you can now count Vancouver among the cities they’ve won over.

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