Earlier in the year, I had the joy of interviewing American noise punk quintet Perfect Pussy. It was a big deal for me, and I sat down and pretty much just talked shit with the band for an hour or so. Much of that conversation has been lost, mostly due to the clumsy nature of memory, but there was a question asked to me that I find myself thinking of as I stand in a packed Corner Hotel for the inaugural Gizzfest.

‘You Australians really like garage music, right?’

For those not in the know, Gizzfest is the brainchild of Melbourne’s soon to be renown (calling that shit now) King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. The concept isn’t the most original in the world: get a shitton of mates and play a makeshift DIY fest in Richmond’s The Corner Hotel. What makes it a truly brilliant idea are the m8s of King Giz themselves. A mishmash of various post-punk weirdos, kids more distortion than person, and bedroom artists most likely tasting fresh air for the first time in months, all of which have convened in the dank depths of Richmond.

The first night I arrive to a hall decorated by inflatable beach crocodiles and more permed hairdos than seen in the last two decades. I go to sit on the side stage, only to find it crawling with the sound checking members of Contrast. Terrified that my usual viewing platform of the side stage is seeing its first use since Parliament last year, I shuffle around to find a place away from human contact to watch Sewerside. The surfy psychedelic sounds go down as well as the house beer, which is to say, surprisingly well. Already you can feel the electricity all the excitement and hype has caused in the air.

It’s rumoured that at one time, The Kremlings was a soft synth–pop band. But, one night, after being bitten by a twisted Wolfmother, everything changed. Now, when the full moon rises, they take on a monstrous transformation into something not quite the same as either of them but far more brutal than either genre. The front howls and spits into a mic dressed in nothing but a pencil thin g–string and a luchadores mask. Guitars violently shout and buzz as much less extravagant band member’s jump and roll about the stage. At least one member of the audience lets out a gasp audible enough to be heard over all the buzzing.

On the other side of things, Crepes must have been bitten by The Microphones. Though unlike the Microphones, the minimalistic feeling to that which they play doesn’t come off as suppressed or artful but rather lazy. The effect of this is a set that could be considered one of the more forgettable parts of the night, one that reminds me just how goddamn thirsty I am.

Scott and Charlene’s Wedding come out with their noisy pop stylings and I’m thankful that something seems to be happening onstage again. Seems like for the first time tonight the sound can’t be described as jangly, which to be honest is making me a bit uncomfortable. The band, despite their smiles, seem a bit deflated but the set still goes on to hype up the crowd.

Mark my words: If Drunk Mums’ popularity is anything to go by, ladcore is going to be the next big thing in the Melbourne underground. Showcasing some truly fabulous rattails and knockoff Adidas streetwear, the band goes off with some truly grimy punk. It’s a bit of a letdown not to see tinnies a–flying as the band play such smashed classics as Naganator, but the crowd destroy each other either way. It’s a pretty good lead up to the infamous kings of the night.

King Gizzard slithers out onto the stage that they have built for the night with the intention to burn it down. The set barely lasts an hour, just enough time for the seven piece to blow out the eardrums of everyone in the room. Showcasing a little bit of everything from their massive five album discography, the band mainly tackled their newest material during the first night. It’s loud and abrasive and hard to get a clear view out of any of the proceedings with how much everyone is moving around, so pretty much standard fair for the garage giants, though they hold back on the flute solos until night two. Despite giving their all, no one shows any sign of retiring once the set is finished.

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And now it’s time for night two. There are a few distinct differences already, mainly the third stripped back stage strung up in Christmas lights by the front bar, and the fact that it’s a lot less busy in here than last night. As I walk in Tiny Giants are playing a stripped back version of ‘Naganator’ to an audience consisting of people either hungover or still drunk (most likely the result of the last night’s proceedings). It’s at the third stage that I start out with as Jack Robbins plays some jangly melancholy on perhaps the most beaten up guitar of the weekend (an achievement not to be underestimated). His voice reflects his instrument, but this isn’t a bad thing, creating this frail yet mellow soundtrack to the evening.

When he finishes the distinct sounds of goth (gawth) rock blast out from next door. Expecting to see at least Blixa Bargeld levels of morose onstage, instead I find four flannel–clad lads throwing themselves about. This would be Melbourne psych rock group White Bleaches. After being hit with a surprisingly on point cover of ‘Blue Monday’, I’m being screamed at by a guy who kind of looks like if Mac Demarco chose distortion over country twang. This would be Lalic, who almost fling themselves off the tiny side stage within a minute of playing. Later on I am unsurprised to find out that the band is made up of members of Manglewurzel, Whipped Cream Chargers and Amanita.

Straight from the get go, Davey Lane‘s David Lane made it clear he wasn’t holding any punches. Probably the closest thing to straight rock on the entire bill, Lane’s bizarre lyrics land perfectly on an audience just fried enough to understand them. Brimming with energy, he easily steals the show away, at least until Manglewurzel turns up.

A lot of people would agree with saying that Mr Bungle, the experimental outfit of a pre-Faith No More Mike Patton, left us before their time was truly up. It seems that the universe, running on Buddhist concepts of karma, agrees with this sentiment, as Mr Bungle has clearly been reincarnated as noise-pop outfit Manglewurzel. Frontwoman Cosima wails like the ghost through a carnival haunted house, landing on notes that I feel like didn’t exist before this performance. Meanwhile bass and brass stab through the air as if rein-acting the shower scene in Psycho. All if this comes in at speeds that you could compare to flicking around with the settings while playing a 12″. But probably the biggest surprise is that all of these traits work together and build something that might not have been seen in Melbourne ever. The wholly unique Manglewurzel manage to stand up as the weirdest in a class full of oddballs, an achievement which in itself more than deserves praise. The night winds down with King Gizzard, which may be the only time King Gizzard has wound anything down.

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As far as festivals go, Gizzfest has been an incredible success. This might lie in the hype around the fest (Saturday sold out in less than a week), or the extraordinary line–up of local frontrunners and new sparks, or the management onsite (those two stages work wonders). Hell, it probably lies in the efforts of King Giz themselves, wanting to bring a new spin to the tired travelling Australian festival. As I leave the Corner, while I think those properties solidified Gizzfest, there’s one thing I truly believe made it what triumph that it was. And that is the fact that those Australians sure love their garage rock.

Cleatus Glob

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