King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard Showcase Diverse Musical Spectrum At Red Rocks Opener
Listen to the full show including the debut live performance of Changes standout “Hate Dancin’.”
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard brought their 2023 US Residency Tour to Red Rocks just outside of Denver, Colorado last night. Coming off of four successful nights at The Caverns in Tennessee, including a special acoustic set, expectations were high as the sold-out crowd packed onto the rocks.
Multi-instrumentalist Stu Mackenzie greeted the Colorado faithful and announced that “we’re going to start you off a little heavy” before launching into the opening of “Gaia.” Drummer Michael Cavanagh was highlighted on the opening song as it stretched close to 15 minutes –an absolutely BEASTLY drum solo along with a segment of “Motor Spirit” would be inside the screaming tune. Bassist Lucas Harwood stood out on “Superbug” with his powerful low-end underneath Mackenzie’s shredding guitar solo.
While the first two songs were more toward KGLW’s heavy metal side, the sextet catered to the obvious jamband demographic at last night’s concert with some more laid-back tunes. Vocalist/keyboardist Ambrose Kenny-Smith let the crowd know it was time to get weird before starting up “Sense.” With clean-toned guitars and a distinctly mellow vibe, this was the improvisational highlight of the show — the sextet extended the groove while guitarists Mackenzie and Joey Walker faced each other for some slick lick trading. Kenny-Smith threw in extra vocal stylings and percussion as the jam slowly took on a more dissonant feel, the guitars dancing around each other and pushing into a more menacing tone. Returning back to the song proper and ending it, the sextet opted to keep the jammy vibe going with an expansive “Magenta Mountain.” With no guitars and four layers of keyboard textures on this Omnium Gatherum cut, the crowd was ecstatic as the bright synthesizer washed out over the packed venue.
Kenny-Smith threw the band back to the heavy side with the aggressive “The Grim Reaper.” Emerging from his setup on stage right and crisscrossing the stage throughout the song, his presence and energy undeniably added to the heavy synth layers and Mackenzie’s flute (yes, flute!). “Astroturf” was called upon next for only its second live performance to date. This tight and funky song saw the rhythm section REALLY shine with solos from both Cavanagh and Harwood while the audience and band alike gleefully absorbed the impressive musicianship.
At the conclusion of “Astroturf,” Cavanagh took a moment to shout out his parents (and brought his dad on stage!), who had traveled all the way from Australia to see the group play at Red Rocks.
One of the highest-energy moments of the night came when the opening notes of “Hate Dancin’” rang out into the air. While being released on Changes last fall, this groovy track had yet to be played live. Again showing off the more upbeat side of KGLW’s expansive catalogue, the crowd showed the exact opposite of the song’s title and danced with an incredible energy.
Multi-instrumentalist Cook Craig fronted the band on “Down the Sink” next, his only lead vocal of the night. From 2017’s Gumboot Soup, this song has only been performed a handful of times; last night’s was just the second since 2019. Moving through an instrumental rendition of “The Reticent Raconteur,” last night’s only audible, it was time to dive back into the dark and heavy with “The Lord of Lightning.”
Beginning with a triple-unison guitar lead, the band crashed together as the lyrics screamed out. Segueing next into the beginning of a wild medley, “Robot Stop” offered some seriously frenetic metal guitar shred all while the rhythm section held down an incredibly solid foundation. While KGLW would go on to segue into “Big Fig Wasp” and “Gamma Knife,” keeping the trio of songs together that appeared on 2016’s Nonagon Infinity in that order, “Robot Stop” was not to stand on its own. Containing teases and quotes of “Hot Water” and “Shanghai” as well as an entire segment of “The Dripping Tap,” many in the crowd went nuts at the medley — a phenomenon commonly seen at jamband shows.
The final song of the night was “Iron Lung,” another cleaner song with a piano presence not heard in the majority of the band’s catalogue.
With a set lasting just short of two hours, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard brought their all to the first night of their 2023 Red Rocks residency. Showcasing their diverse musical spectrum, there will no doubt be a bevy of unforgettable moments to come in their Thursday doubleheader.
Last night’s concert and all 13 from the 2023 US Residency Tour will be broadcast livestream-style on nugs.net. Official video will premiere on a nightly basis from June 23 – July 5. Head to nugs.net to pre-order the “livestream marathon.”
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Setlist (via KGLW.net)
Set: Gaia > Motor Spirit > Gaia, Superbug, Sense, Magenta Mountain > The Grim Reaper, Astroturf, Hate Dancin', Down The Sink, The Reticent Raconteur > The Lord of Lightning > Robot Stop > Big Fig Wasp > Gamma Knife > Iron Lung
-  With drum solo
-  Debut