Kind of a blog type post, heads up but I just got this back from the framers which reminded me I never posted about this here:
Last month I saw my favorite band; King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard not once, not twice, but three times in a row, in the rain, at the old Morton Salt Factory in Chicago, my 4th-6th shows respectively.
I got into them in 2017, the first of two years they've ended up releasing five albums in one year, and caught them that year on the tour supporting their collaborative album with Mild High Club, Sketches Of Brunswick East. I saw them in Lincoln Hall, which was a very small 500 person venue. Now... 5000, in the outdoor "Fairgrounds" venue of The Salt Shed (it was scheduled originally indoors... a change I will rue, but the word was they accidentally oversold and indoors is only 3500... a shame it looks, and sounds quite nice!). Their growth in popularity due in part to three factors:
1. Their prolific output, at 1-5 albums per year, nearly every year (they took a break in 2018) for 12 years. A discography so large and complex there are fan made interactive guide websites. And that's just counting "official" releases, they also put out multiple "official bootlegger" releases, consisting of soundboard concert recordings, demos, early recordings, and my favorite album of theirs Polygondwanland, all free in the public domain... anyone can make a vinyl release or a CD or blu ray or whatever (just send some to the band to sell on their own site).
2. A rapid tour schedule, when they're not in the studio they're on the road, or thinking of new wild things to do.
3. They have become a bonafide jam band. They toyed with it in their shows in the past, sometimes ending with an impromptu 30 minute medley of tunes, but the return to the studio post pandemic (and pandemic listening) brought out a love of The Grateful Dead in the band, which has led their more recent albums to have a loose flowing jammy feel which translates seamlessly to actually jamming out on the road. This in turn has garnered the attention of other jam bands (catching notable fans as Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon from Phish, and all of the members of up-and-coming band Goose) and thus those jam bands fans.
They've also encouraged taping and sharing of live show tapes. Former Grateful Dead taper Mystery Jack was there and captured all of the three nights. They also re-streamed pro-shot, soundboard quality audio of every night of this tour, which was 4 nights at The Caverns in Pelham, Tennessee, two days (with one having a morning and night show) at Red Rocks, three nights in Chicago, three nights at Remlinger Farms in Carnation, Washington, and one final 3 hour marathon show at the Hollywood Bowl. While my show in '21 was the first I saw of this new jam band era, this would be my first ever multi night run of a jam band, having missed out on Phish NYE from getting the Coronavirus (I will be seeing them in MSG this month though!), I was excited...
In fact, first thing I did when I checked into my hotel for a staycation in the city after a train ride in, was meet up with members of a Phish Discord Chat I'm part of who have opened up their own phish.net equivalent for King Gizzard, kglw.net to hang, but also to grab business cards with QR codes on the back to hand out to people. We met at a "Shakedown Street" where I bought a pair of 3D glasses that turn a point of light into various shapes, this one with one of the band's myraid of logos, which I wore for all 3 nights. We all headed out, got burritos, and walked towards the venue.
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The weather... was not ideal for an outdoor concert. Just a few days prior would have been far better, with weather in high 70's to low 80's, bright and sunny. However... a cold snap had hit, and with it on and off drizzling rain on the day of. I had planned on warmer weather, only bringing cargo shorts (to carry battery pack, tickets, etc) and a hoodie. Unfortunately for me... it was 58 degrees, windy as hell, and flipping between drizzling on and off. I got my poster, each night had different colors, but these colors are the signature 4 used by its artist, the band's primary artist Jason Galea, who hand screen prints each poster. For lack of a better strategy, I also bought a tote bag (and tie-die tour shirt), and put the rolled up and bagged up poster in the tote… and put the tote around my neck, poster resting on my chest. The venue was really nice, if the weather was nicer what they were planning would have worked more. The outside venue is set up like a mini festival. As you get through security, a horseshoe of 3 food trucks are set up in the turn around space where trucks used to drive into the loading bay... which is now the venue space. As you walk in to your left is merch, and then a large space with 8 picnic tables with umbrellas, more food, run by food truck people but in stands and bars. There's also a guitar store, merch for the venue (their ponchos say "It's Pouring..." on the back... clever), and stores run by local breweries. However, the hottest piece of merch was the red sweatshirt, which completely sold out by the end of the night with at least a third of the audience wearing one, trying desperately to keep warm.
I ended up front of soundboard for most of the night. Highlights of night 1 include a metal medley jam featuring songs from the then unreleased 25th album PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation, the second ever live Satan Speeds Up, a Jethro Tull inspired number, and a 24.5 minute rendition of The River that was beyond words. See, the band scheduled an extra day in their tour to see Dead & Company at Wrigley Field, something they mentioned at the top of the show, and it rubbed off on them something fierce. The River, already a long song dissolves into a Dark Star or Dead-style Space jam with keyboard/percussion/harmonica player Kenny Ambrose-Smith (son of the late Australian rock legend Broderick Smith) on saxophone. Lowlights include the opening band, who would be opening all 3 nights Kamikaze Palm Tree, who were like Stereolab by way of Captain Beefheart. A... truly bizarre combo, matched with absolutely no crowd interaction at all. No hello, no goodbye, no "this song is called"... just walked on stage, played... walked off... Very strange. By night 3 I had warmed up to them a bit, but were a very strange match to this band.
During the day before the second show, I went to The Field Museum for the first time in years, and I'm glad I did. They changed the way SUE, the T-Rex is displayed into part of a much larger exhibition. I ran into quite a few King Gizzard people (the sweatshirt was a dead giveaway), and handed out cards.
Night 2's weather was far better, sunny, 64 degrees, far less windy. Got up in front of soundboard again, for a jam filled show. An opening microtonal medley, a jammed out version (with special live lyrics) of Shanghai from their synth heavy Butterfly 3000, a jammed run of songs from their infinite looping album Nonagon Infinity, a suite from my favorite album Polygondwanaland, more metal jamming (with another hat tip to the Dead with a rather primal, and Dead-like drum solo by drum virtuoso Michael Cavanagh), and a closer killer Am I In Heaven? jam.
The Lyft ride over to night 2 I recalled the Dark Side of the Moon Planetarium show, so I spent the day at Adler Planetarium, and caught the show, which I reported on in it's thread. While I was there however, I was alarmed to see rain streaking down the sides of the glass. Not just a little rain... a lot of rain. The weather was back to horrible, and it rained all throughout the day. I planned for this, by bringing a disposable plastic poncho but (foolishly) waited until after I got through security to put it on. Just as I walked up to the metal detector, it switched from raining to an outright downpour. I ended up hanging out mostly inside the venue (which was open), and under the premium ticket balcony, where it was dry, and I had a section of bench. An energetic metal opener to reward the moshers in the rain was followed up by some plastic (for the poncho) and water themed tracks, including my favorite, Hot Water which went into a tasty jam into Hypertension, half of my favorite album from last year Laminated Denim. We got the live debut of the title track from another of last year's album Changes, which was spectacular and well worth getting drenched. Finally to close it off, a fantastically jammed The Dripping Tap, with a third and final blissful Dead-style jam in the middle.
A spectacular time, one that made me wonder if I should drop what I was doing and catch the rest of the tour... definitely plan on doing more shows if possible next year.
I missed the original Space ritual tour as too young, but saw them on the Hall Of The mountain Grill Tour in Watford Town Hall, 13 Jan 1975This Friday at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the mighty Hawkwind. Now where did I leave my hair !! Or did it leave me !
My deluxe Hawkwind Space Ritual is supposed to be arriving Friday too, but that will have to wait until Saturday as I'm out Friday. When I get back home from the gig I doubt I'll be able to resist the temptation to fondle it though