Too Much Is Not Enough: Binge-Watching King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard at the Hollywood Bowl
This article was originally published on Respect My Region
Doors open at 7:00 PM, show starts at 7:30 PM. In most cases, flimsy details such as these force attendees to take into account two, sometimes three opening acts that could last anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes. Then, it’s also important to consider the time between each of them and take a shot at how soon before the main act you want to get there, and despite years of experience with live music, being on target is always a gamble. During their final show in the United States this year, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard got straight to the point and made sure to spare fans the trouble of any funny, tentative math.
The Australian prog-psych-garage-metal brigade wrapped up their USA Residency Tour earlier this week with a three-hour marathon show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles — just an evening of music minus the nonsense.
90 minutes is the perfect amount of time to properly enjoy a set without feeling the need to check your watch. For those who’re really into it, even two hours can be fun if you include the encore(s). Three full hours, however, sounds like a drag, but the Melbourne six-piece is an exception to concert fatigue. After all, these gentlemen have built a reputation on tasteful and effective profusion. In the decade following their debut LP in 2012, they released 23 full-length albums—take a moment to let that thought dry—and they already have another one out halfway through 2023.
With King Gizzard, the music simply never stops. Regardless of their busy touring schedule, the group finds a way to get inside the studio and keep putting out new music so their shows always offer something new in addition to fan favorites. With so much music to their credit, you’d think their catalog would be impossible to keep up with and even get boring eventually, but the massive slope of humans at the Hollywood Bowl on June 21st told a different story.
It’s easy to look at the culture the band has fostered and confuse it for shred-obsessed, DNDesque prog-rock fiends who get high on Phish. Of course, there’s some overlap, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s also important to separate the Aussies from the forces they’re conflated with from afar.
King Gizzard has an admirably committed fanbase — some follow them on the road while others know every song word-for-word, which is commendable considering how many there are. What makes them so mesmerizing is that they’re not just a spectacle with proficient output; each of them is a distinguished composer with proficient execution.
The marathon comprised only 24 songs, which is standard for sets that last half as long. The Lizard people, however, adorn their stage act with improvisations to emphasize the now, but they remain grounded through it all. It’s this conscientious balance between playing songs that the crowd loves and occasionally drifting off without getting carried away, and then snapping right back into it and hitting refresh.
The King Gizzard performance came with a range of amenities such as jam sessions, songs they haven’t played in over five years, a Beastie Boys snippet and a nu-metal joint with some flute, among many other things. With the amount of ground they cover as artists, it’s a thrill to see just how involved all members are in bringing their music to life in front of thousands of people. Yes, their work has some digital elements that they can’t recreate on the spot with their fingertips, yet you’ll rarely see any of them inactive on stage.
Because they give the audience a clear look at where the music is coming from, engagement from both ends is effortless. This isn’t just some fertile outfit that mass produces music you shut your eyes and “vibe to” — through the countless releases, they’ve managed to uphold a high standard and consistently write songs that leave a lasting impression.
Then, they go around the world and show everyone how they made it.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is everything you want from your favorite artist — reliable, present and candidly extravagant. They’re right up there with the Flaming Lips as an act everybody should experience live at least once. Based on their track record, they will almost certainly be back in North America soon, quite possibly even with a whole new album to their repertoire.
Do not think twice when the opportunity next presents itself.