Live Review: The Drones, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

16 April 2013 | 12:30 pm | Nick Wright

All hyperbole aside, The Drones are still the best band in Australia by so far, it’s getting boring.

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It's an early kick-off for Melbourne's multi-headed psych behemoth King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard but they still have a solid crowd watching them go through their ever-so-eclectic paces. They only just dropped the excellent spaghetti concept album Eyes Like The Sky, but unsurprisingly given its nature they largely eschew this in favour of tracks from last year's equally great 12 Bar Bruise. It's weird but accessible, the band fucking with structures and mixing things up, but they acquit themselves well and prove a worthy opening gambit for tonight's proceedings.

There's a strong and reverent crowd in attendance by the time the lights go down and The Drones make a low-key entrance, kicking straight into the opening title track from their new opus I See Seaweed. The already ominous track is made even darker in the live realm, the dense tracks of lyrics delivered with the band in virtual darkness, their silhouettes swathed only by washes of pink light which pulse into action when the music smashes in for the chorus. Recent single How To See Through Fog is next and the newfound importance of keysman Steve Hesketh becomes obvious as his lines weave between the textures sublimely, adding a whole new level to the band's already powerful sound. Tonight is primarily about showcasing the new album – by sets end they'll have banged out seven of its eight tracks – but there's still room for the classics, and The Minotaur elicits a strong response from the entranced throng ensconced before the band, frontman Gareth Liddiard's vocals cutting through the room like a knife, a voice which would no doubt sound attesting if he was singing in another language instead of bashing out incredible gushes of evocative lyrics in our own tongue. The more restrained They'll Kill You segues into the towering Laika, bassist Fiona Kitschin menacingly shadowing Liddiard's vocals until it all explodes into a somehow tuneful cacophony. As suspected I Can Stand In Your Moat is an immediate live force, its pummelling power rife with lacerating hooks – compared to on record focus in the live realm intrinsically moves to the music rather than the lyrics, and the awesome depth of the arrangements suffers little in comparison. The anarchic Nine Eyes is next, before they offer Kev Carmody's River Of Tears (which they long ago made their own) and The Miller's Daughter, before concluding the main set with the lengthy but captivating Why Write A Letter That You'll Never Send. An encore is a given, and they return for the evergreen Shark Fin Blues and a riveting version of I Don't Ever Want To Change, complete with massive dissonant wigout at the end, concluding an utterly memorable set. All hyperbole aside, The Drones are still the best band in Australia by so far, it's getting boring.