London-based duo, Jungle, (with the help of five additional live band members) took the stage Wednesday night at the newly reopened Thalia Hall. Closed to the public in the 1960’s, Thalia Hall recently reopened in May with a fantastic performance by Panda Bear and has boasted a lineup of interestingly eclectic music since.
Empress Of, the solo project of Lorely Rodriguez, opened the night not only with an excellent set but a proper introduction to the main attraction as she foreshadowed, “you guys are in for something really special.” We certainly were.
In the past year, I’ve seen Jungle twice and each time it was nothing less than electric. Last night proved no different.
Orange lights and smoke engulfed the quaint arena whilst radar-like tones echoed faster and faster, signaling the duo was approaching soon. Doused in fog, the members of their live performance ensemble entered. The masterminds behind the project, Josh Lloyd Watson and Tom McFarland, arrived shortly after with Wild West thumper, “Smoking Pixels” slinking out of the PA.
Simply as a duo, Jungle brings quite a bit to the table with a fusion of funk, soul, and electronica. As a seven-piece band– with an additional guitarist, two more vocalists, a drummer and a percussionist– they take their unique sound one step further.
Ripping through crowd pleasers, “Platoon” and “The Heat” early, Watson and McFarland swapped bass and guitar between each other, their respected synthesizers never out of reach. Each of them possess downright infectious vocals and often delivered the lyrics in unison to create a sum even greater than its parts. “Crumbler” into “Julia” propelled the crowd into a dancehall frenzy, amid the latter’s Daft Punk-ian high-powered synths and backup vocalists’ complimenting falsettos.
Showstopper, “Drop,” ended with flashing lights and droning arpeggiation reminiscent of another well-known duo, Darkside. Jungle finalized their set with their biggest hit to date, “Busy Earnin’” and at its climax, Josh Lloyd Watson navigated the entirety of his synthesizer like a snake slithering against the earth, a sonic array radiating off every keystroke.
The talented group encored with the funky and bass driven, “Time,” capping off a performance that lasted an hour and contained the complete track list from their debut, self-titled album.
Jungle’s live show has always been great and they appear even more polished each time. Their performance encapsulates all that a concert should: it extrapolates, expands, spawns a fuller sound and most importantly, leaves the audience yearning for more. The energy was high last night at Thalia Hall and for good reason.
When Jungle takes the stage it’s almost impossible to look away and even more difficult to stop moving.
Lucky I Got What I Want
Son of a Gun
(Photos taken by Blake Schwarz)