Las Vegas is known for its over-the-top antics and last night’s show at The Hard Rock Hotel was no exception, they don’t call it Sin City for nothing. When the creme de la creme of the Australian psych scene, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, hit the poolside stage, mischief reigned.
Loyal fans, many of whom had traveled hundreds of miles to catch a stacked lineup that also featured Aussies POND and ORB, quickly filed into the hotel pool area. . On a night of many firsts, ORB kicked off its maiden U.S. tour by opening the night’s festivities. Unfortunately, due to the complicated maze that was the entrance to the show, I was unable to make the set. POND brought its synth-fueled pop to Vegas with new tracks “Paint Me Silver,” “30000 Megatons,” and “Sweep Me Off My Feet,” which ended with a fan offering to sweep POND’s lead whimsical fairy, Nick Allbrook, off his feet. The band even let loose and took advantage of Nevada’s laid-back marijuana laws by smoking a joint mid-set with some lucky fans.
Nick Allbrook of POND
Fresh off releasing the Middle Eastern-tinged Flying Microtonal Banana this year, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard kicked off its set with the track “Open Water,” in which bassist Lucas Skinner dished out riffs of rolling thunder. Other groovy favorites from Flying Microtonal Banana followed, such as “Nuclear Fusion,” “Sleep Drifter,” “Billabong Valley” – an outlaw tune about the infamous fictional character Dan Morgan sung by keyboardist Ambrose Kenny Smith – and “Doom City,” the apocalyptic tale of air pollution. While the live cuts from Flying Microtonal Banana were crisp, the lack of a live Zurna was noticeably absent.
Left to Right: Cook Craig, Ambrose Kenny-Smith and Joe Walker
The ever-catchy single “Rattlesnake” flipped the vibe from dance party to full-on madhouse of thrashing bodies for the second half of the show. As if the Gizz hadn’t conjured up enough energy by this point, it upped the ante with darker tracks “Alter Me,” “Altered Beast 2,” “Alter Me 2,” and “Altered Beast 3” from the first chapter of the soon-to-be-released album Murder of the Universe. The level of intensity in the Nevada air was so high that security mistook the mayhem of the crowd for an actual riot and entered the mosh pit in attempt to combat the moshers. Upon seeing this, King Gizzard front man Stu Mackenzie politely directed security to stop mistreating fans and get out of the crowd. They obliged, and fans rejoiced!
The show took another yet another turn.
“How’s the water?” Mackenzie asked the audience late in the set, a mischievous grin on his face. He then talked fans into helping him crowd-surf his way to the pool for a dip. A soaked McKenzie crowd-surfed back to the stage to close out the show with a goliath of a medley, including “Am I In Heaven/Altered Beast/I’m In Your Mind” and “Cellophane.”
All photos by Heather Emily