Photos and review by Dave the Photo Guy
Those pesky rockers in the mythical King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard wrecked everything. I want my money back. Why? Because there may not be another concert coming to Denver in 2023 that will live up to this one. Period. Beyond my own bias, there are several other outside indicators that point to the possibility that I could actually be correct.
First indicator, buzz. The buzz leading up to their set of shows at Red Rocks was palpable. Sure, psych rock fans were buzzing…that’s a given, it’s in-house. But when the buzz bleeds outside the lines, that’s when transcendence meets mass culture. Don’t take my word for it…look no further than Phish’s Trey Anastasio. He was buzzing so hard, he posted on his social media that he’d be attending. As the techs readied the stage, there he was, talking to fans lucky enough to be standing next to the soundboard. Line waiters arrived in the dark hours of the morning to get as close to the stage as possible. At 6PM when doors opened, the line for the south stairs was so long, it extended well beyond the Trading Post. It was the first time my veteran “Climb Van” driver had seen a line that long for any show during his tenure at Red Rocks.
Second indicator, execution. Launching into 2022’s “Gaia”, King Gizzard laid out their intentions for the rest of the show: grab the crowd by their flesh, shake ’em around, throw ’em to the ground, stomp on ’em, and cook ’em with jet fuel. Dinner served. Fans were rewarded with a tight performance that seemed to span just about every rock influence I could think of. A lame attempt at summing it up would be Jethro Tull meets Mastodon meets the ‘cool-kid’ vibe of Tame Impala meets The Doors with some Frank Zappa thrown in for good measure…or some version of that. Look no further than their third song of the set “Sense”. Musically, it’s not even in the same universe as the first 2 songs although they effortlessly pulled off silky-smooth transitions like that all night long. When have you seen a guitarist drop their axe for a flute while their multi-instrumentalist takes over the stage rapping in the same vein as Zach de la Rocha? And even if you’ve seen something like it before…was it any good? Did it jam hard? No. Not even close to what KGLW pulled off.
I won’t waste words telling you about the setting for the night. I won’t tell you ‘the mood on the rocks was magic’ or ‘the weather was perfect’. Fact is, these fans wouldn’t have known, (or cared), if the show turned into King Gizzard in a blizzard, they were locked in. The grooves were unstoppable, the air was smoky sweet, and the stars aligned for show 1 of their 3-show slate at Red Rocks. The show opened with a group of LA musicians known as Kamikaze Palm Tree. Not to discredit their grind or their talent…but I’d be surprised if more than a handful of attendees will remember them a week from now. It’s not their fault, they just played in the shadow of a monster.
Set List (abbreviated):
The Grim Reaper
Hate Dancin’ (live debut)
Down the Sink
The Reticent Raconteur
The Lord of Lightning
Big Fig Wasp