There are different methods of discovering new music, either you stumble upon an artist on your own or you’re introduced to them by someone. When King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard was introduced to me, I was doing what I do best, procrastinating. A co-worker had mentioned that he and his girlfriend just bought tickets to this Australian band’s show, and they were stoked to check them out live after only listening to them on Spotify over the past few months.
One thing that I pride myself on is how diverse my musical tastes are, but then again, lately, I’m a walking meme – listening to the same songs I’ve been listening to for the past 20 years while rotating through the same four apps on my phone. I was passed off some recommendations and spent the remainder of my shift completing my day job’s tasks while getting lost in the world of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. A month later, it’s still a tongue twister for me, and much to my chagrin, I get corrected frequently.
With little to no knowledge of the band’s stage presence, I hoped to experience the tales of my mother and the mother of my best friend – who spent the greater part of the 60s and 70s getting lost in the Los Angeles music scene, seeing bands like Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and The Rolling Stones. King Gizzard would be my modern tale, instead of hitchhiking to San Francisco to see a band, I would be crashing a date night instead. Something I made up for with the first round of beer, it’s the least I could do – even if my co-worker kept calling me the female version of the kid from Almost Famous.
Gizz, as they’re referred to by their fans, are seven guys from Melbourne, Victoria in Australia, and on their tour across the United States — even playing Coachella, I knew that coming to Arizona would be an experience. The Crescent Ballroom is such a hidden gem in Downtown Phoenix, that it was guaranteed to be an intimate affair. The show started with ORB, another band from Australia. It was for sure a night of firsts for me, but I can tell you one thing, they were an amazing preview of what the night was going to be. Once they finished their set, I wandered around waiting for Gizz – my hunger won out and I ordered from Cocina 19, a modern take on Mexican from the venue’s restaurant, I recommend trying their Salsa Verde, it was literal fire.
“It’s nice to get such a warm welcome from a city you’ve never played in before…” was one of the first statements that was said by the band and it hyped up the crowd with such fire that both moshing and crowd surfing was a token of affection given back to the band. One thing that I enjoyed most throughout the show was focusing on the crowd, the individual faces were in such a trance and amazement, they were in their Neverland.
With playing 20 shows in the prior weeks, the band had been so mellow and relaxed – as if we were seeing a small snippet of an impromptu jam session. But the crowd stayed true giving them the intensity of the hot Arizona sun. Psychedelic projections canvassed the stage and the band that flowed so euphorically with each song that was played.
As the show concluded, I found my friends and we were ushered to the exit at the back of the venue, by then, a small crowd had formed in hopes of seeing the band. With that “concert high” still floating heavily in the air, we decided to stick around and see if the band would come around, and when they did, I was floored instantly.
The band was so genuine and kind while speaking to their fans, signing vinyl records, doodling on arms, conversing about music with their fans; it was a breath of fresh air. One of my favorite interactions that I witnessed was a flea market boomerang find that the band were so shocked, yet, stoked to sign. No face in the crowd seemed to go unnoticed, no question seemed to go unanswered, no picture request was declined, and while I was there for at least fifteen minutes, I could tell the band would have stayed out there until the last fan was satisfied.
One thing that I can say is, by that experience alone, I’ve found a new appreciation and respect for King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. On the next North American tour, I’ll be out there waiting next time with a vinyl and a gold sharpie waiting for a quick signature to add to my growing collection.
Words by Michelle Mungaray