Melb Showgrounds, Melbourne VIC
December 2nd, 2017
Featuring: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Amyl & The Sniffers, Clever Austin, Private Function, Orb, Kikagaku Moyo, Jacky Winter, Umbilical Tentacle, Tropical Fuck Storm and a shitload more.
Gizzfest rolled in to the hosts’ home town for its third time more grandiose than ever. Backed by four widely successful and idiosyncratic album releases this year alone, The Gizz have achieved unprecedented global recognition and success, which means more fans; so many more that the utterly charming Coburg Velodrome has been ditched in place of (a fenced off 25%) of Melbourne’s most reliable and expansive music fest HQ.
Rolling in on the same day as Gizz and their staggering swathe of musically diverse local and international support acts was an unprecedented torrential Victorian downpour that, while never achieving the apocalyptic storm levels every news station had predicted the day before, still managed to bucket an absolute shitload. Mercifully, a 200-odd metre walk that separated the main stage big top tent from a mammoth shed containing all the food, merch, dunnies, bar, and every other mini-stage was the only place to really get wet for the day (excluding a rather common mud pit just outside the heavily tracked entrance to the outside dunnies, and much later underfoot on the outskirts of the grassy main stage tent to the dismay of exactly no one).
The Coates hire annex mini-stages (all 10 of them) graced the back wall of the mammoth home base shed, flanking a central, larger stage erected exclusively for the few heftier supports that played closer to the festival’s end. Contained all up in the tiny stages were an endless cavalcade of hugely diverse music ranging from straight up 80’s punk to uncompromising electronic noise art, and everything in between. These set ups are a brilliant idea, as having 50 local bands ask at least ten friends to hit up Gizzfest is an automatic ~500 extra folks at your DIY music festival. Plus, punters are far more likely to find something they enjoy with so much music constantly on show, and enjoy themselves more at the gig as a result. Highlights throughout the day included:
- Clever Austin sat hunched on the floor of The Wondercore stage in the early hours of the festival delivering bang on beats from a lone sample pad, quietly beaming to himself as more and more folks crammed in the portable.
- Planet Slayer on the Anti-Fade records stage delivering mouthy rock n’ roll glued together with a rollicking drums and vox combo from multi-tasker Ally Slayer up back.
- Private Function a few hours in on the consistently heavy Tote stage belted out manic thrash/ oi punk to a jam packed loaf of sweaty kiddies going off like a frog in a sock.
- Non-Stop Orchestra in the Moontown records stage played one long, relentless, spiralling, mad, sometimes unpleasant, partly lovely, immersive, addictive stream of noise from a multitude of varying instruments including but not limited to sampled members of their beguiled audience and at least one Nintendo DS. They were doing it their own way, and more power to them for it, but it was still an ever-encroaching mind fuck watching this collective disappear in to creative abysses throughout the day. Kids who took the wrong pill or peaked early seemed to gravitate toward Moontown’s stage; the varying, wild noise enchanting them for good or ill. Wild stuff.
- Vintage Crop back at Anti-Fade later on had their annex bursting at the seams with raging fans all gobbling up their revivalist skater punk action roundly.
- Umbilical Tentacle were aural equivalent of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Korn having rough cocaine sex at Fucked Up’s house circa 1997. Deeply spectacular stuff from an underrated local group who are engaging beyond measure and tighter than a Nun’s nasty. Keep it up, guys.
- Jacky Winter sounded like a great cruisy rock band back on The Tote stage, but weirdly used a drum machine to back themselves. If they had to last minute for some reason, that’s fair enough. But if they’ve actively sought a drum machine over the real thing, they’re cheating themselves out of a more authentic noise. Drum machines used solely behind real instruments too regularly sounds like elevator music, or a Freeza band demo. These guys were great, but sort a real drummer and watch the fans tip in, homies.
- Laser Tits: Riot Grlll meets Eddy Current Suppression Ring belted out with accomplished aplomb by a group of ladies who chose a really great band name to match their lack of bras… fuck bras.
- Jaala Vs Man was Cosima from electronic quartet Jaala’s one-woman, late afternoon DJ set, for which an ample throng of punters had squeezed in to see. She bashed out beats audibly akin to Death Grips with a dash of hard trance electronica. At one point, Cosi mounted her DJ booth stool and mimed stuffing a microphone in her arse while dirty, dirty bass and crunchy electronica shook the very foundations of the portable. It all worked rather wonderfully.
The mainstage, appropriately emblazoned with a large, pro-indigenous landowners message between bands, was dressed to the hilt with a massive psychedelic LED screen, and heaps of shiny, pretty lights. Truly, the boys from Gizz have really brought DIY festivals to the next level with the amount of professional effort put in to make Gizzfest great. Managing to run a nationally touring festival as well as global band tours, and four (soon to be five) album releases in a year spawns utter fucking bewilderment in this reviewer for these dudes’ relentless work ethic. It seems the Gizz can do no wrong at the minute, and are currently nearly singlehandedly causing a 60’s and 70’s rock revival that’s teetering on proper and pervasive sub-culturedom as 2017 comes to a close (judging by how authentically hundreds of festival goers were groovily dressed, that is).
Youngsters Parsnip were early openers on the main stage, and received a gleeful response to their seriously authentic 60’s pop folk tunes. Good show, young lasses, you have a bright future ahead (especially because Eric the other Gizz drummer/owner of Flightless records watched your whole set from side of stage).
Streamlined psych hype machines Orb could be any number of bands at the minute. Musically, they mirror Pond, Wolfmother, and Tame Impala almost identically and rather frequently. This is not uncommon for music that shares a genre as these four bands do, but the sameness of it all was only made a bit special by a mammoth sound system and some ace backing LED tomfoolery. Orb make great enough psych rock, but not having heard them until long after taking in a solid decade of 70’s revivalist bands that strongly resemble them, it was hard to see these guys truly standing out in the crowd. The resoundingly stoned audience were a vocal majority for Orb’s warbling jam band aesthetic though, and ate the whole set up with joy and ease. At a gig, that’s all that really matters.
Kikagaku Moyo (Japanese for ‘geometric patterns’) followed Orb with a blistering crescendo of slow-built 70’s stoner sludge akin to Germany’s brilliant Kadavar in many respects, replete with plenty more jam-band elbow room. Blissful dashes of Simon & Garfunkel, wacky 5/4 time signatures, and a walloping wall of noise that came out like Spinal Tap covering Abbey Road at the end rounded out this Japanese behemoth’s welcomely swollen set. A solo tour ASAP would be most divine.
It’s worth noting that by the time Kikagaku Moyo had finished, the entire crowd was rather ‘excited’ on an evidently rich tapestry of ‘social aides’, ‘introspective enhancers’, ‘existential soliloquy boosters’, ‘universal unity diviners’, and not insignificant amounts of ‘drugs’. Safe to say, there wasn’t a fight or trouble in sight, despite Melbourne’s Gizzfest synchronising with a schoolies week. Sure, there were a group of young men dressed in cheap suits – accidentally bouncing off strangers – that looked like they hadn’t been to bed since three days before whenever you’re reading this review, but they meant no one harm and appeared to find manic solace right in the guts of the heaving, sweaty mosh pit. One young man with peeling shoulder sunburn from the strong possibility of not wearing a shirt since mid-October appeared right at home as his skeleton tried valiantly to escape out of his mouth for hours on end, and another punter not content with letting the badge of his Toyota falling off this morning ruin his festival experience had simply stuck the big plastic logo to the front of his rain poncho and dived head first in to the madding crowd.
It’s a testament to the festival goers and organizers to let menial things like a bit of mind-altering substance taking slide on a fun day out like Gizzfest. Letting folks be themselves, helping them if they’ve accidentally overdone it (thank you as always to St. John’s volunteers), and having a relaxed security presence is the best bet for a festival that would revolt against any exhibition of unnecessary authoritarianism.
Cheery Bar owner James Young seemed to love the shit out of Amyl & The Sniffers back inside on the mid-size Flightless Records stage, as did dozens of batshit punters slamming their heads and crowd surfing to their ceaseless, barely-hinged fast rock madness. The one-two punch of presently hot local up-and-comers was rounded out with Tropical Fuck Storm rampaging the same stage soon after before Gizz let rip back out under the now slightly-flooded big top. Both these bands are hard, fast, and fun. They break no moulds, but sometimes kids just want a wild fucking gig of classic fast paced punk rock, and these bands dish it in spades.
And with a resounding clamber through the drenched Melbourne atmosphere one last time, every single person at the festival sloshed back to the big top to watch big Daddy King Gizz do their globally renowned, unmatched, unprecedented, untamed, and fucking brilliant brand of cataclysmically spasmodic psychedelic ridiculousness for 90 solid minutes. They are currently the earth’s greatest and most prolific rock and roll band by a mile, and watching these boys unleash their ball-tearing journeys of musical explorations to the very hilt of skill and execution is a once-in-a-lifetime experience we all have the privilege of doing on the regular. Sure, releasing five albums in a year means that some earlier recordings fall by the set list’s wayside, but with such a recently expanding collection of original songs, it’s impossible to sate every request your unprecedentedly gigantic crowd can muster. What the audience does get is the height of live music, and a show that will guarantee increased degrees of cult-like followers in perpetuity for eons to come.
In short; Gizz are the fucking greatest, the bar barely had any lines, no one cared it was raining, everyone had an awesome time, and local music is always vital and exciting. Bring on Gizzfest 2018.
Review by Todd Gingell (above, middle)
December 2nd @ Melb Showgrounds, Melbourne VIC