By the time King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard began their performance at Laneway Festival in Sydney, it had been raining for a few hours. Thousands of punters were drenched, save the ones with enough foresight to bring ponchos. So it felt especially appropriate that the psych-rock band kicked off their set at the Garden Stage with ‘The Lord Of Lightning’, from their 2017 record ‘Murder Of The Universe’.
The fuzzy, freewheeling epic set the electrifying tone for the Melbourne band’s outing at The Domain. As the last local act to play at either of the big stages, King Gizzard were effectively Laneway’s Aussie headliner, and they delivered a knockout set befitting that informal title – though it probably confounded The 1975 fans, who were slowly but surely inching their way to the front to catch the English pop band close the festival.
More than one 1975 devotee likely got swept up in the massive circle pits that opened up during the heavier Gizz cuts. The band spent most of their 50-minute set giving the roaring crowd what they wanted, segueing into the thrash metal ragers from their latest album ‘Infest The Rat’s Nest’ before embarking on a roller coaster ride through the unforgettable three-track run of ‘Gamma Knife’, ‘People-Vultures’ and ‘Mr. Beat’ from 2016’s ‘Nonagon Infinity’. There has been significant variation in the band’s Laneway setlists thus far, and Sydney fans hoping for anything from ‘Quarters!’ or even the more recently released ‘Polygondwanaland’ were unfortunately disappointed.
The ever-versatile King Gizz also gave the moshing multitudes a break by meandering through vibey jams like ‘Boogieman Sam’, from the band’s other 2019 album, ‘Fishing For Fishies’, and ‘Her And I (Slow Jam 2)’, from 2014’s ‘I’m In Your Mind Fuzz’. Though one could almost feel the crowd itching to get back into the headbanging as the songs went on, the seven-piece took their time drawing them out, allowing every member to shine, sometimes on a different instrument: Frontman Stu Mackenzie briefly sat down to noodle on the keyboard during ‘Her And I’.
King Gizzard have always had a straightforward, no-frills approach to live performance, relative to the lavish, idiosyncratic concepts of their songs and albums. A bit of banter and Mackenzie bowing to the crowd as they chanted “Gizzard!” while Ocean Alley wrapped up their set on the other stage was the extent of the interaction. But the band know their fans aren’t there for weak shoutouts and left side-right side crowd games. They’re there to wig out to the riffs, and that’s exactly what Laneway Sydney got to do.