The loudest, weirdest and most wonderful artists at Wide Awake 2024

 King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.

Festival season is back! And on the same weekend that Slam Dunk and Bearded Theory brought rock fans of different stripes out into the sunshine elsewhere in the UK, Wide Awake festival returned to south London's Brockwell Park on May 25, with a UK exclusive headline set from Melbourne psych-rock heroes King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, and stellar support from the likes of Young Fathers, Dry Cleaning, Slowdive, Bodega, David Holmes and more.

Mixing hip-hop, post-punk, electronica, indie-rock and sporadic bursts of thrash metal (thanks for that King Gizz!), Wide Awake 2024 was a huge success yet again. Here are our top picks of the day.

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C.O.F.F.I.N

Sydney’s C.O.F.F.I.N filled the Shacklewell Arms x So Young tent with eager fans, some of them possibly still drunk following the quartet's sold-out show at Moth Club the night before. For those less familiar with Children Of Finland Fighting In Norway, think Animal from The Muppets, covered in tattoos, barking down a microphone in a husky Australian accent whilst thrashing drums so hard that they are in danger of falling to pieces, flanked by three skate-punks who look like they would beat you in a game of beer pong. Speeding through their set with riffs that Motörhead would be proud of, the band have crowd surfers flying through the air from the off, and their audience literally barking along with them as they tear through prime cuts from last year's Australia Stops album, topped off by a harmonica cameo from King Gizzard's Ambrose Kenny-Smith. Truly, a band unleashed.

Fat Dog

Frenzied, ferocious and out-right random, Fat Dog are a South London-based band fast making a name for themselves as the soundtrack to wild nights outs. With a drummer sporting a dog's head mask, and a keys player in short shorts running around pretending to be a lobster, they lived up to this reputation at Wide Awake, blending elements of dance, punk and Klezmer while getting everyone moving. Bringing screeching sax, sunshine and an open space for weirdness, the dramatics of their show match the joyous energy of the crowd, providing an excellent late afternoon pick-me-up.


Upchuck

With the cover artwork of Upchuck's 2022 debut album Sense Yourself album showing singer KT’s face smeared with blood following a mid-gig collision with a crowd surfing shopping cart, we went to see the Atlanta quintet's 5pm set on the Shacklewell Arms x So Young stage with high expectations of riots, rage and rampage. We were not disappointed. Combining hardcore punk with doom tendencies, their shows aren’t for the faint hearted, and as they race through a set heavy on songs from their Ty Segall-produced second album Bite The Hand That Feeds at one million miles per hour, there's no room for respite. All fuzz and fury, they're not a band to be listened to with a hangover.


Lambrini Girls

Despite an early 2:20pm stage time, Iggy Pop-approved Brighton punks Lambrini Girls drew a huge crowd to the Disco Pogo stage, and confirmed their reputation for causing chaos. Regularly throwing their guitars to the floor, and their bodies into the crowd with a disregard for their own personal safety or spatial awareness, the trio use their set to talk about the importance of supporting Palestine as well as trans rights, while serving up fan favourites such as Boys in the Band and Help Me I’m Gay. “Look, at the 6Music dad in the pit there,” vocalist/guitarist Phoebe Lunny shous at one point, gesturing towards a man having the time of his life while he grins back at her.nCelebrating freedom of sexuality and empowering everyone in sight, Lambrini Girls are a band you should be playing to your kids.


King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Someone once said that when you play King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, it “clears the room of people you wouldn’t have wanted in there anyway”. But as we await tonight's highly-anticipated headline act, it’s obvious that the Aussie six-piece have brought together a community of diverse, die-hard fans. With an astonishing 25 studio albums to their name since their formation in 2010, you can never be quite sure what direction the group will be taking with their setlist, but they open up fast and heavy, with Planet B and Organ Father from their thrash metal-influenced Infest the Rats' Nest album from 2019, before lead guitarist Joey Walker takes centre stage for the more mannered This Thing, from Fishing For Fishes.

With typical disregard for convention, the Melbourne sextet largely disregard their most recent album, last year's synth-heavy The Silver Cord, though a snippet of the title track pops up during Evil Death Roll from 2016's Nonagon Infinity, but a deliver demonic montage of tracks, blending their extensive back catalogue flawlessly and effortlessly in a mirage of guitar solos and harmonica spots. We are even treated to a new tune, Sad Pilot, which sees Joey and Ambrose taking lead on the country-tinged track. If that’s a hint of a new album coming in 2024, great, but knowing King Gizz, we could be treated to more than one, which would be even better.

True originals, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are hurtling towards cult legend status, and their headline performance here is another giant leap in that direction.