King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard offers addictive sprawl at Sinclair
Signs posted on all the entrances at Cambridge nightclub the Sinclair on Friday night left no room for misinterpretation: “No moshing / No crowdsurfing.” Two thoughts came to mind. One: Faced with the prospect of a sold-out concert by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, a trippy, eclectic psychedelic-rock septet from Melbourne, were pastimes more closely associated with punk and metal shows really a concern?
And two, did sight of such signs amount to provocation, if not an invitation? The question seemed fair when the crowd erupted into a swirl of heaving bodies the moment the band took the stage and snapped smartly into “Robot Stop,” the opening track from “Nonagon Infinity,” its newly released eighth LP.
The album — an instantly addictive mix of gangly garage-rock spirit with airtight krautrock rhythms, florid prog time signatures, and the odd flute solo, delivered at punk’s buzzy pace — has a swell gimmick: Its nine songs run together seamlessly, the end of the last flowing back into the first. It’s a trick more efficiently deployed in digital formats than their analog counterparts, but it works either way.
Live, you had to wonder just how far King Gizzard would pursue the gag; the answer was, just so far. “Robot Stop” melted into “Big Fig Wasp” and the LP’s first two singles, “Gamma Knife” and “People-Vultures,” an ecstatic whoosh of three interlocking guitars, throbbing bass, two locked-in drummers, and keyboardist-singer Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s fuzzy blurts of harmonica, punctuated with the occasional “yep” or “woo” from principal singer Stu Mackenzie.
The band illustrated its range in a generous stroll through its surprisingly packed canon: “Trapdoor,” baroque and conspiratorial, from 2015 album “Paper Mâché Dream Balloon”; the Hawkwind-esque four-song medley that opened 2014’s “I’m in Your Mind Fuzz”; jazzy sprawl “The River” from another 2015 LP, “Quarters!”
Coming after that sequence, two more new tracks — “Evil Death Roll” and “Invisible Face” — showed that despite its loose, loopy bearing, King Gizzard has honed its attack and clarified its style. Its sounds might be borrowed from any number of well-worn LPs extracted from residue-sticky gatefold sleeves, but its synthesis is fresh, and audience response testified to its potency. Disappointingly, buggy equipment let the air out of the final number, 2013’s anthemic “Head On/Pill.”
Playing in support, Melbourne quintet the Murlocs offered a more primal strain of trebly garage-rock, Kenny-Smith as frontman conjuring a young, feral Jagger in the set’s best moments. New Hampshire singer-guitarist Doug Tuttle opened with a trio in a brief but strong set saturated with blissful vocal harmonies, penetrating guitar solos, and reedy fuzz bass.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
With the Murlocs and Doug Tuttle. At the Sinclair, May 13