King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard–Aragon Ballroom–August 24, 2019

King Gizz is an interesting animal. Prolific as hell, but not always proficient. They have a wheelhouse, and while I applaud the instinct to challenge themselves and branch out, oftentimes the material is just not strong enough to merit releasing. Five albums in one year is a fun goal, but the material was good enough for three–which still would have been amazing. But Gizz is following their muse, and this should always be supported in a society where all music seems geared towards garnering enough clicks to sell a festival ticket.

2019 has been true to form for the band, but with an interesting twist. To my ears, King Gizz is best at psych rock; the jammier stuff just doesn’t connect. My guess is most fans would say their favorite records are Nonagon Infinity and Flying Microtonal Banana, and these are rock records. So when they put out Fishing for Fishies earlier this year, it was basically a barf for me. Like Sketches of Brunswick East, my main reaction was, “why?”  Then came the twist–not only was King Gizz going to put out multiple records this year, but the next one was going to be a straight up thrash metal album. Now we’re talking. Ultimately, Infest the Rat’s Nest wasn’t thrash, but it was definitely metal. I don’t think it was a coincidence that it was also the first time in awhile the band sounded urgent and inspired.

How would the weird amalgamation of Gizz fans react? Their meteoric rise from Subt–Lincoln Hall–Metro–Riviera–Aragon got people from all over the map into the band. These boys will take over the world. For now, though, they’d have to settle for a collection of 6,000 college kids, deadheads, stoners, and yes, metalheads. How would they get along?

Oddly! King Gizz came right out with 2 from Rat’s Nest, and the most awkward mosh pits of all time ensued.  As a reformed metal elitist, I welcome the 20 year old EDM heads whose weird friend showed them the band into the fold–but chill the fuck out. When people are outside the pit, it means they don’t want to mosh. This isn’t a Slayer show.
Some Polygonwannaland tracks and a strategic relocation to the back soothed, and soon the Gizz show took on its familiar rhythm and spectacle. So many band members, doing so many interesting things. The current track having almost nothing in common with the one that preceded it. It is glorious, and when they amp up the energy, can border on frenzied. The ability they showed tonight to take this spirit from a place like Subterranean and make it palpable to the Aragon-sized crowd suggests the sky is the limit. Don’t bat an eye if these boys are headlining arenas one day.

The metal was front and back loaded, sandwiching 2-3 song jams on specific records in the middle. First was Polygon, then Nonagon and finally my personal favorite stop, selections from Flying Microtonal Banana. Not the ones you might expect either, which is another part of their charm–Anoxia and Billabong Valley work just as well as the more obvious Open Water and Nuclear Fusion (both sadly left out). Always gotta have Rattlesnake though.

On the whole it was inspiring to see King Gizz step up to the plate and blow Aragon away the same way they do rooms 1/3 of the size. This band was a sensation the first time I saw them, and continue to be so even while going through the boom in fandom. No watering down the weird, no lessening the energy, no pandering–just chasing that muse wherever the fuck it’s going. If you missed them when it was 100 people packed in Subt, I’m sorry, but get your ass out there now before LiveNation starts charging your first-born child to see a show (2 years or so?).

 

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