King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard / Mild High Club Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver BC, September 1
Published Sep 02, 2015With appropriately scuzzy '60s garage-rock playing between bands, Alexander Brettin's Mild High Club delivered on their name. Playing much of their soon-to-be-released debut album, Timeline, in sequence, their dilapidated retro sound brought to mind the eccentric breeziness of Mac DeMarco cut with the researched baroque-pop of Jacco Gardner. Brettin and fellow guitarist Andrew Burt both played in bare feet, adding to the laid-back vibe.
Unfortunately, they had a couple of hiccups — they seemed to have feedback problems through much of their set that, in particular, ruined a take on their otherwise fantastically trippy lead single "Windowpane," and Brettin popped a string on his 12-string electric guitar during "Note to Self" — but they showed flashes of excellence. The stately "Undeniable" saw keyboardist Alyson Kennon lay down a nifty one-handed harpsichord solo on her Nord Electro 5, while Brettin soloed nimbly during the summery instrumental jam that closed their set. It's going to be something to see this Club with more experience and songs under their belt.
Psychedelic septet King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard came all the way from Melbourne, Australia to play their first-ever Vancouver show, and it was one that few in attendance will soon forget. Their frantic eight-minute take on "Hot Water," from their breakthrough 2014 album I'm In Your Mind Fuzz, had the crowd surging forward immediately, repeatedly knocking the front row over the monitors on the low stage. Following that and the demonic "Hot Wax" from Oddments, the band expressed their concern, asking nicely for people to look after one another and pick each other up when they fall.
Taking the energy down a notch, King Gizzard then played the much more chill "Sleepwalking" from Oddments, but there was no quelling the storm. The crowd kept the energy going through their slowest jams and jazziest progressions. People were going ape-shit; they were literally climbing cages.
Many a plaid shirted crowd-surfer was floating in the air just below the venue's low ceiling, and one of the guitarists gave one of his beers to a girl getting pummelled in the front row. Another guy lit up a joint at the front of the perpetually pulsating pit, then kindly shared it with the whole front row.
Admittedly, it doesn't take a miracle to stir up a decent mosh pit in Vancouver, but the size, durability, intensity and variety of this one stood out as something special — principal songwriter Stu Mackenzie had them in a fever pitch while he played flute, of all things. It's not every day that Australians lovingly call Canadians "psychos" and "crazy bitches."
King Gizzard was about far more than garage thrashing, though. To hear their progressive jazz piece "The River" unfold in 5/4 time across two drums, three guitars, bass and harmonica was better than seeing Burt Bacharach compose a suite for Tame Impala, while the "I'm In Your Mind"/"Cellophane" medley that capped off their set maintained its instrumental snap and propulsive energy throughout.
Right in the pocket throughout much of their set while still letting loose, King Gizzard played with a natural grace that few rock bands today are able to achieve, let alone bands this size. They left no wonder as to why an indie band that had never been to Vancouver before was able to pack the Biltmore on a Tuesday night with such enthusiasm.