Gizzfest is a genius creation putting promoting power in the hands of the artist

Through over-saturation and increased competition, the music festival market has become a volatile nursery. Boutique festivals are popping up all over the place as they pursue that new idea or untouched patch of grass.

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Jamie Wdziekonski

Instability and risk is inevitable with festival curation but there’s always one thing for certain – interested punters warm to certainty and relatability.

They want their enjoyment to be certified, not approximated, and most of the time this boils down to the quality of the music.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard tread a seldom explored path in 2015 when they launched the first-ever Gizzfest, a two-day extravaganza that enlivened The Corner Hotel with locally-bred psychedelic rock and garage.

Not since Luca Brasi established Til The Wheels Fall Off in 2014 had an Australian band launched a festival by themselves, yet, it was a theoretical masterstroke.

When King Gizzard drummer Eric Moore devised Gizzfest he didn’t have golden aspirations, rather he just wanted to put on a show with a bunch of his mates.

“We wanted to try something different and put a show together with all of our friends and friends’ bands because everyone in Gizz played in heaps of bands at the time. So we thought let’s just do a show at a bigger venue like The Corner, like a normal show and we’ll just call it a festival and see what happens,” Moore says.

As much an avenue of exposure as it was the next opportunity for King Gizzard to consolidate their burgeoning reputation as a band, Gizzfest 2015 welcomed the likes of The Murlocs, The Babe Rainbow, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, Dreamin’ Wild and Love Migrate alongside the psych seven-piece and was spread across Saturday and Sunday with an all-ages show on the Saturday.

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A year on, they shifted things to the Coburg Velodrome and upsized, welcoming international talent for the first time in the moulds of White Fence, Mild High Club, Boulevards and Dinner.

“We expanded it quite a bit the second year,” Moore explains. “We put on a show at the Coburg Velodrome which was one of the biggest shows we’ve put on. It was super incredible and stressful and fun at the same time, but I remember being super manic with having to organise everything and get involved but also having to perform that night.”

On this day, Moore shouldered more than his place in the King Gizzard’s dynamic rhythm section but also the responsibility of festival chaperon. From a bird’s eye view, 2016 went down without a hitch – the talent-heavy yet diverse lineup complimented each other perfectly and a new phenomenon was born – the demountable stages adding refreshed spontaneity to an already intriguing occasion.

Going into 2017 for the band the next chapter had begun – releasing five albums in that very year, King Gizzard were now adored for their impulsiveness and unpredictability. So what would Gizzfest Three dish up, what was the kicker this time around?

First off, the festival was moved to the Melbourne Showgrounds. The demountable stages from 2016 were renewed but the set times bore a strange discrepancy – there were two mystery acts headlining the Flightless cabin and it wasn’t until the morning of the festival that revered locals Tropical Fuck Storm and Amyl and The Sniffers were unveiled as the Gizzfest tricksters.

There was rain forecast as well, and plenty of it, and as Moore puts it, the last week of preparations was like a game of musical chairs as weather patterns intensified throughout the week.

“The whole show was pretty much meant to be an outdoor show where we had this big outdoor stage with not much cover and then a week leading up to it we got word that it was going to be this absolutely horrific weather event so we brought in a Big Top tent and heaps of other precautionary stuff to ease the rain. We had like water pumps and everything and then by the time it hit, it was all hands on deck,” Moore explains.

And rain it did. From 5pm on Saturday November 2, 2017, Melbourne was soaked by 20mm in the space of an hour. As we look to Gizzfest 2018, there will be commemorations to that fabled day of the 2017 in the form of two “cave stages” hidden down a tunnel.

“This year, we decided to make it completely weather-proof, so we’ve moved everything indoors and we’ve put these two stages in a concrete underpass, it’s kind of an underground tunnel, cave thing that they have at the Showgrounds. We’re going to dress it up and it will be a really cool gig like a tiny underground club show vibe.”

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Performing for the first time in Australia at Gizzfest 2018, Dutch-based Turkish psych-rockers Altin Gun, New York garage residents The Mystery Lights and Brooklyn punks Surfbort will take to the main stage alongside an impressive local lineup featuring Tropical Fuck Storm, Divide and Dissolve, Amyl and The Sniffers, Stonefield, Baked Beans and Body Type.

The cave stages will welcome a bevy of Melbourne talent including Civic, Leah Senior, Traffik Island, Spike Fuck, U-Bahn and so many more.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have laid a blueprint not just in their music creation but also their entrepreneurialism. Forging themselves a cult following that’s billowing into the mainstream, the seven-piece have capitalised on their divergence and individuality and now it’s paying dividends. Bravo boys.

Gizzfest 2018 comes to the Melbourne Showgrounds on Saturday December 1. Grab yourself a ticket via Oztix.