Bristol Show Recap: May 30, 2024
Stu, Cookie, Lukey, and Joey on the synths; photo by ToraTapesphoto by ToraTapes

In a rush and can't read the whole thing? Make sure to check out "The Silver Cord" -> "Extinction" -> "Gondii", "Ice V" -> "Hypertension", "Evil Death Roll", and "Work This Time."

With their European tour chugging ahead at full steam, King Gizzard rolled into the Bristol Beacon to deliver a stellar show. After some unexpected song choices in the previous show's setlist and an acoustic show on the horizon, song choice speculation became a questionable endeavor. It's always fun to guess, but in the end the band follows where the river of inspiration runs, and they play what they want to, when they want to.

Prior to any streams going live, a photo circulated of the synth table being readied by the crew. Soon we were watching members of the band tinkering with the array of devices. As the first mellow synth notes grew in volume, Jason flashed the fishie-face on the screen and it was on. Peppered with alien vocals and pitch-manipulated samples, the band's build-up to the first verse of "The Silver Cord" was patient and calculated. After the main verses, Cavs broke out another stunning techno beat. The band built a sinister cathedral of synth-noise behind him, a structure that dissolved into a strange water-drip effect. Cavs came back with yet another great beat, over which the band introduced a blip-bloop moonscape of a jam with vocoded "Extinction" quotes.

The audience gave a cheer when "Extinction" itself ensued, creating the first back-to-back pairing of songs from The Silver Cord. It soon gave way to a frantic jam. Cavs then went completely silent, letting the synths once again make the transition into "Gondii". Cavs again yet dominated, putting on a total clinic, if we're being honest. Some beautifully layered synth arpeggiation materialized in the jam out of "Gondi". From the stream it sounded downright otherworldly.

poster art by Amy Jean: robed ghoul stepping through an ancient doorway surrounded by clouds and suns

The band set up an obvious transition into "The Grim Reaper", but bailed at the last moment. Amby had the mic in hand, ready to spit fire from the edge of the stage, but it seemed like Stu pulled the ripcord. After the synth table made its exit, the band launched into a wailing "Supercell", followed by "Organ Farmer". "Dragon" came next. Maybe it was the stream, but this version seemed to be played faster than normal, approaching hyperspace several times. The "dawn of eternal night" section (one of the nastiest metal grooves in the whole catalog, I'd venture) seemed to get some extra juice tonight. It's great to see this ambitious, multi-section song evolve in real time. "Flamethrower" made perfect sense after "Dragon" and closed out the metal portion of Bristol in raging fashion.

"Ice V" was a welcome cooldown after "Flamethrower", even if the jam got heated with a little extra sax-treatment from Amby. "Ice V" grooved hard before a slick segue into "Hypertension". A major key jam unfolded which led to a bold reprise of the main theme, the band's repetitive vamping nearly spinning out of control into the song's closing section. This is a high-energy "Hypertension" and well worth hearing.

After a nasty "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" tease from Stu and Hendrix-related banter, the band exploded from dead silence into "Evil Death Roll". The first section of the jam had an electro feel and featured intricate group interplay. No one soloist stepped out over the others, but instead everyone listened, responded, and ultimately found where to play a part. The three-guitar-attack remains, for me, the centerpiece of the live King Gizzard experience. This "Evil Death Roll" jam is a brilliant example of how Gizz conjures unique but familiar sonic landscapes from the stage, night after night. After a brief return to the song proper, the band spookily quieted the jam before (of course) erupting, with Stu letting loose a hair-raising scream. "1-2-3-4" and the song slithered away, leaving this listener grinning from ear to ear.

Joey introduced a well-placed "Work This Time" as "the first song I ever wrote." This version began meditatively and slowly gained power before shifting (with a mock-fart from Joey and laughter from Stu) into a rollicking polyrhythmic jam that departed wholly from the song proper. Another unique "Work This Time" for the history books. Speaking of history, the band grabbed their microtonal instruments and closed the night with a song about an orange baby squealing ("Pleura") and another about a madman meeting with justice ("Billabong Valley"). That the night’s setlist was predetermined serves as proof that this band may be from the future.

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