King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard @ The Anthem, Washington DC

Australian psych-prog-folk-metal-etc outfit King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard stands on the precipice of a major turning point in their career. Though their following is still composed primarily of the indie-cult, they are beginning to see modest returns in name recognition; raking in nearly 2 million listeners a month on Spotify alone.

Now the band is tearing through a long delayed North/South American tour, proving that their listenership can translate into a healthy string of packed venues. Towards the end of the run, King Gizz made a stop in Washington D.C.’s Wharf to play a sold out gig at The Anthem with fellow Aussie band Leah Senior.

Catching a vibe on the eve of the show evoked tones of the jam band crowd associated with acts like Phish or Dead & Company. Tie-dye tees and headbands littered the attendees as far as the eye could see, while marijuana smoke permeated the air as far as the nose could smell.

There were, however, hints of the indie and metal delegations littered throughout the venue, indicated by their Morrissey and Morbid Angel shirts. This was no surprise, given King Gizz’s eclectic range of influences that manifested in the unabashedly jukebox-esque batch of songs constituting their performance.

A large gong situated onstage was rattled once to introduce the band and their inaugural performance of “Hypertension.” The track, standing in sharp contrast to the saccharine indie-folk of opener Leah Senior, is a 15-minute prog-rock monster that translated perfectly to a live setting. The same went for the rest of the set.

After a couple of lowkey cuts from Omnium Gatherum, the band dove into a medley of tracks off Murder of The Universe and I’m In Your Mind Fuzz. The former portion of the medley was accompanied by some spoken word, courtesy of Leah Senior.

Lights then dimmed and members of the band sat down to watch drummer Michael Cavanagh play a pagan-like solo, complete with flaming graphics projected on the screen behind him, to introduce the rowdy portion of the show. Blistering performances of “Self-Immolate” and “Perihelion” from fan-favorite record Infest the Rat’s Nest followed that display. The intense thrash-inspired performances turned the crowd ravenous, prompting security to clear the press pit, and more than a few audience members opting to take a break and hang back.

Jams ensued once more following a few fast-pace microtonal tunes from 2021 releases, K.G. and L.W. King Gizz even pulled out a surprisingly reworked version of “Straws In The Wind”
that traded its grating pitched vocals and twangy acoustic instrumentation for layered electric
guitar and more expressive singing from vocalist Ambrose Kenny Smith. “Rattlesnake” was given similar treatment, as the already eight-minute song was stretched out to nearly twice its original length to form a near-religious musical passage surrounding the mysterious pit viper.

A fittingly full-circle moment came at the end of the show when the band closed with the title track of one of their first records, Float Along – Fill Your Lungs. Watching them play together, it’s easy to see that despite the increasing grandiosity of venue and perceived stature, the lot of them still operate much like they probably did when they were practicing in their parents’ basements.

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