Warm Your Heart and Melt Your Face – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard in Asheville, NC

By Nicholas Evans

In 2020, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard were supposed to hold their biggest tour ever. Two years later, they were finally able to accomplish that.

If anything, this has been more than a success; as of writing this, they have just performed their sixty-eighth show this year, on November 2 in Morrison, Colorado, at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, with more shows in Australia and New Zealand next month.

Last year, I bought tickets to see one of these shows in Asheville, North Carolina, and after a year’s delay, on October 24, it finally happened.

To say I had been looking forward to it would be an understatement. At the point of buying tickets I had been a fan of the band for a little under a year; between when I got tickets and the time of the concert, they had released about seven new projects (including the remix album Butterfly 3001 and the collaborative Satanic Slumber Party EP), and my love for their music had only grown. Not to mention the band’s countless live albums, all of which I’ve had on repeat in anticipation; it was pretty hard not to shift in my seat out of excitement from just the thought. I’ve seen some of the raw energy King Gizz shows can harness; with the band’s explosive performances and the spinning audience working in tandem to generate enough power to overwhelm a nuclear plant.

I was definitely not alone in this excitement. Actually, I think I had seen the most buzz for this show in Asheville than any other show the band would be doing this year. Particularly in r/KGATLW (an official unofficial fan page on Reddit), I had seen set predictions, tons of people asking about Rabbit Rabbit (the show’s venue), etc. There would be nights in which the band was actually performing somewhere, and I would still see more posts about the upcoming Asheville performance.

I had even found out a week prior to the performance that Cygoodies (a sort of King Gizzard fan merch conglomerate), would be holding an open jam session on the 23rd. Anyone with a love for the band and an instrument could show up and play music with other fans of the band.

Seeing all of the hype and anticipation for the Asheville show, I knew this would be something special.

My dad and I left the day before the show from Nashville around noon. We had recently each acquired photo passes for this concert to aid this article, which is not the way I imagined my first King Gizzard concert to go. I always imagined I would be packed in the front like a sardine, but instead I would be beyond the front. It was kind of unfathomable to me at first. I would at least have the whole car ride to process it, and we really had a whole ride. The traffic was so intense, that even after six hours of driving, we hadn’t made it out of Tennessee yet. It was safe to say that I wouldn’t be making the Cygoodies jam. That doesn’t mean the trip was all bad though. We went to a Raising Cane’s and saw a guy that looked like Mike Ehrmantraut. That’s a memory you can’t take away.

We finally arrived at our hotel. With legs of jelly, I trudged and dragged my items to the door. Once we finally settled down for dinner, my dad asked me a question that he had asked multiple times throughout the past year: what is the one song that I really want them to play?

This was way more difficult to answer than I initially thought.

Robot Stop? Or something from Nonagon Infinity in general? Nonagon was the album that got me into King Gizzard, and recent performances of Robot Stop (such as on the Live at Bonnaroo ‘22 album) are blistering. There was, however, one issue; the band had a loose “no repeats” rule for this tour. Meaning, that if they had already played a song in a city before, they would typically steer away from playing it. As far as I knew, Robot Stop had already been performed twice in Asheville, so that was likely out of the question.

I gave a more realistic answer: either Iron Lung or Hypertension. The latter of which had not been performed live yet, but I held onto hope. Iron Lung would be really special though. I had seen it teased in live jams for months all the way until its explosive debut at the Desert Daze festival. Both of these songs were (and still are) my favorite songs the band released in October and seeing either of them played in person would probably make my year.

Alright. It’s Monday. The day of the show. Luckily, I was able to get out of school by doing this article. I was still required to do schoolwork. However, the gods in control of Warren County Public Schools had blessed me, and anything I had to do was a breeze. Smooth, smooth sailing.

I immediately got together any items I would need. The focal point of it all was this small lizard guy I had. For my birthday, my friend Veronique made me my own, personal Lizard Wizard. I felt like I owed it to her to bring him. (My dad has tried to give him several names, right now he’s sticking with Larry the Lizard. This is not set in stone.)

Larry the Lizard drinking soda the night I got him.

By the time I had woken up, I found out (via r/KGATLW, of course) there were already people in line at Rabbit Rabbit. A show that, mind you, is at a 4,000-person venue, and wouldn’t have doors open for another eight hours. Curiosity got the better of me, however, and I left to see the line in person as soon as I could. Not before my mom suggested we get people in the line donuts. Naturally, after leaving the hotel, we went straight to Dunkin’ Donuts.

We showed up to the line with a peace offering of a dozen donuts and a box of coffee. By the time we got there, there were now about twenty people lining the sidewalk of Rabbit Rabbit. We went straight to the first person in line, asked if they were the one that posted on r/KGATLW, and asked if they could help us distribute the food. They stood up from their chair, with a denim jacket folded over the back. This jacket had a record sleeve for Laminated Denim stitched to the back, and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.

I journeyed down the line, and near the end was a group of people huddled together. One guy was shredding some of King Gizzard’s metal songs on an acoustic guitar, and other people were singing along. This small crowd chanting “HELL! HELL! HELL! HELL! HELLLLLL!!” over an acoustic line was baffling. I joined immediately.

They played a few more songs before I learned everyone’s names. Most notably, The Bitter Boogie. Mimicking live performances, a man shouted “BITTER!” for the rest of us to respond with “BITTER!” in return.





I soon learned the name of the man on guitar: Julian. It took a while for me to realize that was actually his name. A couple of people called him “Julian Lennon” and I figured it was because he just vaguely looked like him. Nope. Turns out, however, the reason he was so good at playing these songs is that he’s covered them with his band, Sweet Dream. In fact, he’s a full multi-instrumentalist; he’s ridiculously talented.

Sitting next to Julian was a man named Xander, and his little brother Ryder. Xander had a bandana around his forehead, and circular shades propped above it. Ryder was generally wearing normal attire. That is, until about half an hour later, when he stood up, and immediately slid into a red jumpsuit coverall without warning. Similar to the outfits worn by Gizz drummers Michael Cavanagh and Eric Moore during the band’s 2019 tour, except with a black Nonagon embroidered on the back. I was admittedly very envious. Still am, I’ve been researching coveralls for the past month. This seems to be more than just an outfit, though. Cavs is actually a pretty big inspiration to Ryder; he’s the reason he started playing drums. Xander told me that his main goal for the night was for Ryder to meet him.

Ryder and Xander in line. Nicholas Evans

I lingered around for another few hours waiting for sound check. We had a crude sing-along to Welcome To Hell by black midi while Julian played it on the acoustic guitar. Xander later took the guitar, and we did the same for the song Nuclear Fusion.

The venue, Rabbit Rabbit, was really accommodating to us while we were waiting. They brought out bottles of water to us and later even brought out pizzas from the attached Asheville Pizza & Brewing for us, saying that they “admired our dedication.”

Our pizza.

Very shortly after this, another King Gizzard fan approached us with a 3DS and asked to take a photo of us with it. It turns out he filmed several clips of the concert with it and posted all of his photos and videos online!

Our 3DS group photo. (Source: u/NanomachinesBigBoss on Reddit)

While waiting for soundcheck I got to talk more and more to the people in line. Predicting setlists, refreshing King Gizzard’s social media for today’s show poster, and playing music and games with each other; it was all very familiar. It felt like we had already known each other, like we were some kind of family. In a way, we kind of were. It’s just something about King Gizzard fans; we all immediately understand each other.

After a few hours, I was able to catch the first bit of soundcheck. No actual music played yet, but rather vocal techs yelling nonsense.


For one moment, however, Ambrose Kenny-Smith (at least, I can only assume it was him), did come out to test his own mic.

“YEAH! YEA- WHAT?! hhonnk mimimimimimimi”

For now, I had to temporarily say bye to my new friends to go back to my hotel. I quickly showered as fast as I could and got my camera ready. In this time, the poster for the show was finally revealed. The art was done by Lewy Jones, who’s mainly known in the King Gizzard community for doing mashups of every single album cover. He’s really a great artist, and it made me beyond excited to see he was able to make his own poster.

Once I got back, the line may have tripled, and ended at multiple areas. My dad and I quickly ran to the ticket booth for our photo passes and hopped back in line.

My photo pass. Michael Scott Evans

The doors opened and people started flooding in. It seemed like every entrance was opening except ours. The first people to get here were being left in the dust. After what felt like an eternity, our gate opened up. We were finally in!

They stopped us because of our camera bags.

This is a normal thing, yes. But to the teenage mind thinking, “I need to get that poster NOW or it will be GONE FOREVER,” this felt tragic. I got everything back together as fast as I could. And then….

The line for the merch booth was as long as the venue was wide.

I was dumbfounded and hollow. I had to complete my walk of shame all the way to the side exit of the venue. While I stood there, people asked me consistently, “is this REALLY the end of the line?”

Yes. This is the end of the line. We’re going to have to sulk together.

At least I still had my little lizard guy to keep me sane and company.

Nicholas Evans

Looking outside of the line, I observed this sort of makeshift Shakedown Street. Mainly miscellaneous Gizzheads giving each other stickers; each person seemed to always be wearing either a King Gizzard shirt or a black midi shirt, with rarely any exception. The whole place smelled like beer and smoke. A good chunk of the people here had a poster tube on their back, a Gizz-branded tote bag on their shoulder, and a copy of Laminated Denim in their hand.

As the line progressively cinched together, people were trying to pass the time in ways I wouldn’t even think of beforehand. Most notably, a group of people played with a hacky sack, all while trying to keep their poster tubes fastened to their backs.

Nicholas Evans

I struck up a conversation with someone in line, learning that this was their twenty-seventh King Gizzard show; I don’t remember if this was overall or just this year.

Michael Scott Evans

I was getting really close to the merch booth. On the way, I met a man with a homemade Han-Tyumi mask. He was really proud of it, too. And he should be.

When I asked for a photo, he said, “wait! The eyes light up!”

Nicholas Evans

After what felt like eons, I got to the merch stand. I bought a poster and a copy of Laminated Denim with a stone-washed sleeve. Unfortunately, there were no poster tubes left, so I had to carry the poster on its own and guard it with my life.

Michael Scott Evans

On my way to the front of the stage, I got stopped by a guy who overheard me talking to my dad about this being my first King Gizzard show and gave me a sticker.

Michael Scott Evans

Another guy overheard that and also gave me a sticker.

Michael Scott Evans

Funnily enough, the sticker he gave me used some of Lewy Jones’ own mashup art, except nice and shiny with a foil background.


Eventually, my dad and I got to the stage. We said hi to people we recognized at the front of the audience and got our cameras ready. In the meantime, I placed my record and poster down on the asphalt, praying that nothing bad happened to it.

Nicholas Evans

Leah Senior’s set was first.

Nicholas Evans

While I knew who Leah was, I wasn’t as familiar with her music at the time of the show as I should’ve been. Although her performance didn’t last very long, each note her band played was nothing short of beautiful. Despite my anxiety about the day, listening to them play kept me grounded and warm.

Nicholas Evans

She had a smooth voice and enthusiastic musicians to back her up. It was amazing.

Leah Senior has a real talent when it comes to bringing people back to Earth. This crowd, once buzzing with energy, was now pulled into her world, with each and every person in tune with the other.

Michael Scott Evans

After she finished and walked off stage, I then had to endure the agonizing period between the two sets. The anticipation was killing me. Whenever the setlists were taped to the ground, I was jumping up to get a good look at what would be played. The curiosity was overwhelming. For better or worse, all I could make out was that the last song had a short title. Maybe it was…. Magma? Not sure though. I just had to wait.

Nicholas Evans

After about four hours (really only maybe half an hour or so) the band walked on stage and greeted the audience.

Nicholas Evans

Cavs begins a blistering drum solo and propels the band straight into a ripping performance of Venusian 2. Vocals from Stu and Joey are booming, bass from Lucas has incredible tone, and any guitar solos, despite being performed on Stu’s back, are eviscerating.

Nicholas Evans

It was very difficult to listen to this while trying to take pictures at the same time. There have been videos of the performance posted, and you can tell I’m trying to keep my composure while also really awkwardly… dancing? I think?

Michael Scott Evans

I could say a lot of what I said about Venusian 2 for Planet B, and even the following performance of Predator X. However, for Planet B specifically, I could’ve sworn that Cavs’ drumming changed the course of the wind. I swear to you, I felt it.

Nicholas Evans
Nicholas Evans

Shortly after Planet B, someone threw a shirt on stage. Stu picked it up and read it.

Asheville Gatherum! Asheville Gatherum!”

Nicholas Evans

Joey was cheering him on.

“Wear your own merch! Wear your own merch!”

So, naturally, Stu stops everything he’s doing, and immediately pulls his shirt off and changes on stage.

Nicholas Evans
Nicholas Evans

You wouldn’t do the same thing?

After the eruptive 3-song metal set, the band gently begins Slow Jam 1, with impromptu sections extending the song to twenty minutes. A very sweet and chilled-out song to pair with the heavy, face-melting showcase from minutes earlier. Kind of like an olive stuck into a grilled cheese.

Nicholas Evans

There were some teases of the song Ice V through some of these sections, and I sang along to the guitar riff under my breath.

Nicholas Evans

Around this time, I did it. I finally did it. I brought out Larry the Lizard (name not final) and took a photo of him on stage while the band was performing. I’m hoping this can be more than a suitable thank you to Veronique.

Nicholas Evans

The band very smoothly went into the song Magenta Mountain. There wasn’t as much improv to this song as Slow Jam 1, if any. It was a whole lot more structured, and probably the best song to sing along to out of the entire set. Catchy, beautiful, dreamy, and exhilarating. The live performance of this song, unlike the studio version, has its own guitar solo. Tonight, it felt endless. Not in a bad way, however. It was very easy to get lost in.

Nicholas Evans

It was around this time that I graduated from my photo post and entered the crowd. I was now free to be as manic as I wanted.

First off, before I talk about the rest of the set; the crowd at a King Gizzard show has probably some of the nicest and most kind people you will ever meet. They’re all very helpful and understanding. I attempted to return the favor as best I could, as simple as asking if the people behind me could see. However, they were very appreciative, and we all seemed to be on the same page. It was a good feeling, especially considering how much worse everyone here could be. Concert etiquette is barely a thing any more; Gizz fans are keeping it classy.

Nicholas Evans

Shortly after I got settled, and after a little bit of banter from the band (“Showers are for squares!”) they quickly began their microtonal set. They started with O.N.E. (or, One Night Everywhere) and Supreme Ascendancy. Now that I was finally in the crowd, I could shout as much as I wanted. My vocal cords were already stressed by the time they got to Supreme Ascendancy.

Michael Scott Evans

Supreme Ascendancy is a song that has Ambrose on main vocals. It can seem, at times, that Ambrose Kenny-Smith can do anything. Just look at his station on stage. He can do vocals of a ridiculous range whether it be calm or tense, he plays keyboard, harmonica, saxophone, (sometimes) guitar, etc. He’s barely even begun to showcase his talents tonight yet.

Breaking the loose “no repeats” rule, the band launched into Nuclear Fusion, with Lucas on “guest vocals” for the intro. Like always, a funky song with a booming bassline that half of the audience preferred to sing over the lyrics, and a staple of King Gizzard’s live performances. It’s really hard to go wrong with this one.

Nicholas Evans

Like that, they were done with their microtonal songs. Slowly, but surely, they gently made their way to Iron Lung. This was it. The one song I wanted them to play.

This, dear reader, is when I lost my voice.

Michael Scott Evans

Besides that, this is the song that perfectly showcases Ambrose’s talents; calm, gentle vocals, smooth and frantic saxophone lines, his precise harmonica playing, all the way until the climax of the song, where he shouts at the top of his lungs, absolutely booming through Rabbit Rabbit.


Actually, that line, specifically, is where I lost my voice.

Nicholas Evans

Iron Lung is quite possibly one of their best songs and it shines in a live setting. Starting gently, yet slowly bubbling under the surface until it finally erupts. It shows off everything that’s great about the band. It might quite possibly be the perfect King Gizzard song.

After this, we were treated to a very rare Cook Craig vocal performance in the form of The Garden Goblin. The song starts off booming for maybe seconds, only for it to turn sweet and silly throughout the rest. The visuals behind the band complimented this; dark, stormy woods, only to be interrupted with bright, pretty footage of flowers. It was a very nice break after the past few intense songs.

Nicholas Evans

Somehow, after my luck with Iron Lung, it got even better. Two of my favorite songs from Nonagon Infinity were performed; Wah Wah and Road Train.

Wah Wah was more jammy and impromptu than Road Train. A couple teases of The River throughout the song, with each of them being extended and interwoven with the sudden intense sections of the song until it finally hits a plateau of heaviness with Road Train.

I’m not sure if it’s bias, but I think this may have been the best version of the song I have ever heard. It was similar to the revamped version of the song found on Chunky Shrapnel, except it was heavier, jammier, and overall much more put together than any other version of the song I had ever heard. Also, a guy asked me if I wanted to crowd surf during this song, so that may add to my bias.

Nicholas Evans
Michael Scott Evans

There was a slight bit of serenity after the song was finished. With barely any break, Ambrose announced that he was going to “serenade us” and went into The Dripping Tap.

Similar to the studio version, this twenty-minute monster is fun, energetic, intense, and yet doesn’t compromise on melody. Even with extended sections, it was still very put together. Much like the rest of the set, the entire band was very in tune with each other throughout the song, working together to make it something truly great.

Note: the “drip drip from the tap don’t slip” section of the song went on for maybe seven minutes. I kept trying to sing along, but I think it was just air coming out of my mouth at that point.

Michael Scott Evans
Nicholas Evans

After some quick chugging from Stu’s guitar, the final song began: Magma. (I was right!)

While this song was good enough in studio, live performances of the song take it to a whole new level. It’s a lot heavier, and more than face-melting. The chanting from Stu turns the entire audience into cultists, spinning, and spinning, and spinning as if we’re all in the middle of a summon. I truly felt like I was in a whole different world.

Michael Scott Evans

And then it was done.

Just like that. After two hours, though it felt like absolutely no time at all. People just walked away and went home as if nothing happened. I think people were generally aware of the band’s “no encores” rule, so it’s not exactly surprising, it’s just strange.

I made it to the back of the venue where I conspired with my dad. He showed me a handful of photos that I took, all of which I was more than pleasantly surprised by. It turns out that we actually took the exact same photo at the exact same time on accident, which blew me away.

My dad’s angle. Michael Scott Evans
My angle. Nicholas Evans

Then that was it.

We got food and went back to the hotel.

For the remainder of that night, my dad and I sat in the lobby eating McDonald’s, while I had my poster and record next to me. I saw each person walk by and realized that absolutely no one here knows what I did. I just had one of the best experiences of my life and absolutely no one here knows. The world stopped for me while it continued to turn for everyone else.

Oh well. Guess I should just go back to my fries.

Michael Scott Evans

This was, originally, just going to be a straightforward concert review. But I couldn’t write that. The experiences I had and the people that I met are a big part of what made this so special in the first place.

Nicholas Evans

Big, big, big, big, BIG thank you to Michelle Cable and anyone else in King Gizzard’s management that helped this happen. You guys are the best!