Melbourne Showgrounds, Melbourne VIC
December 1st, 2018
Feat: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Amyl The Sniffers, Tropical Fuck Storm, Stonefield, Altin Gün, Traffik Island and more…
Gizzfest 2018 burbled and thrashed with psychedelic aplomb from a big shed in The Royal Melbourne Showgrounds this Saturday just gone. It’s notoriety for having a few bands you kind of know, plenty of whacky ones you don’t, and the only one you paid for a ticket to really see is now unquestionable four years in. If nothing else, Gizzfest will always be a flame for us metaphorical moth punters to swirl around giddily, enjoy thoroughly, and eventually either drift away and on with your little moth life all the merrier, or crash in to and go down in magnificent, trippy flames.
There was plenty of good-natured folk on both sides of the jump, merch stand, and security barrier with no one really giving a shit if the kids smoked pounds of weed, dropped whatever, and safely enjoyed themselves while bending our country’s nanny-state drug laws. This reviewer also didn’t see a single fan overdo it and need to be carried away to St. John’s or shade despite the lofty mix of chemically-induced party starters and windy, cloudless 31-degree heat. Good job, Gizzheads!
There were a shitload of bands across three progressively smaller stages, two of which stood in the main shed, and another in a narrow undercroft/driveway just across the ample outdoor durrie/joint/nang/free water area. The latter of which was the cave, serving as a shade and groovy music area fit for a retreat from all the main action while you enjoyed some great local talent, or took some deep breaths until whatever you just ate levelled out, man.
With so many 70’s punk and rock revivalist acts on show, there was a fair swathe of aural sameness shared between lesser-known acts, but plenty of punters still got a kick out of whatever was on show. Here’s some highlights:
- Surfbort were a writhing, feathery, hairy, bejewelled, shouty revelation that knocked it out of the park at a slot undeservingly early for their brand of gnarly, wailing punk.
- Stonefield are Australia’s stalwart Jefferson Airplane/Black Sabbath all-sister hybrid outfit that maintains an engrossing stoner rock vibe sparingly pockmarked with ascending ripples of headbanging riffage. Always a good show.
- Amyl The Sniffers perpetuated their status as Australia’s favourite new punk band with a consummate mouthy set, plenty of crowd surfing, spitting and nearly everyone packed in front of the mid-size stage singing every fuckin’ word to every fuckin’ song, cunts.
- Tropical Fuck Storm are also a fuck storm of brilliant. This reviewer had missed the boat on these guys up until yesterday, and being right up close to Gareth, Fiona, and the gang to witness the veins pop out their heads and necks while they beat the shit out of their instruments to make writing, punchy, utterly idiosyncratic Aussie rock was sheer dynamite. Do yourself a huge favour and get to the front of a TFS show ASAP. They also did a Bee Gees cover, so that was great, obviously.
- Traffik Island did nice ol’ fashion groovy rock in the cave (they were also the only band I saw in there. Sorry everyone else).
- Altin Gün the slick Dutch funk psych outfit tore the house down in a large space of people who confidently had no idea who they were. Gracious and elated on their first ever show in Australia, these musical geniuses swept the whole place up in their catchy, infectious grooves and technical/ multi-instrumental prowess. They were also undoubtedly a highlight to most folks, and made fans of thousands in forty short minutes. An instant classic.
Eponymous festival headliners King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard are – inarguably – the greatest thing to happen to music in fifty years, or possibly modern history. Their unbridled, relentless, staggeringly technical, immersive, wondrous, spectacular, diverse, prolific brand of genre-defying psychedelic/old-western/doom/punk/metal/rock/pop/prog is without equal. Their skills on their vast array of instruments as individuals, but most so as a group are peerless, and their ability to wildly jump between any of their dozen-odd releases (microtonally tuned or otherwise) without gaps in a China-sized wall of rapturous noise is something the minds of those watching will never truly understand.
They busted out thick chunks from every album over an hour-and-a-half set, save for Paper Maché Dream Balloon, though as an acoustic 60’s soft pop LP it sort of had no place amidst all the other well-orchestrated mayhem firing from the stage. There was even a catchy new tune amongst it all, much to the cult-like crowd in front of them’s rapture, and they put old surf rock tunes from some of their ancient releases through a psych rinse just for added live kick. Anyway, just go see them and have your life changed for the better forever. They fucking rule, and all of the world is in debt for them running this wondrous festival each year.
It must be said that there were only a few niggling omissions from this year’s festival that made last year’s first foray in to The Showgrounds a true success. The most prominent was a lack of things to play on and take pictures with, like last year’s show had strewn across the huge baron cattle shed. There was also no giant main stage tent either, though lesser ticket sales and not having five albums of revenue to run a festival this year may have played reasonable factors in this. Even some laser machines from Aldi around the joint would have been a blast (I’ll bring mine from home next year, as should you).
In closing, Gizzverse confirmed once more by a healthy, fun, exciting, utterly unique festival running once more on a sunny day in Melbourne. Life is great.
Words and pictures by Todd Gingell
Please credit Wall of Sound and Todd Gingell if you repost.
Amyl and the Sniffers
Tropical Fuck Storm
King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard
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