The seven-piece band basked in a euphoric flurry of strobe lights and hollers, building up to the crescendo of single “Platoon” at their sold out show at the Brooklyn Steel on the evening of June 18. “This may be the best show I’ve ever seen,” someone near me exclaims, and looking around, it seems like the entire audience feels the same way.
As a lead up to the release of their forthcoming sophomore album, Jungle has been playing spectacular live shows across Europe and North America. Though their first — and only — album initially received a lukewarm response, Jungle gained traction for their music videos and electric live shows, catching the eye of the public and garnering some critical acclaim including a Mercury Prize nomination.
Following a period of relative silence, the members of Jungle are finally bringing more ’70s-esque funk to their impatient fans, who are hungry for more material. And luckily, the modern soul collective and brainchild of Josh Lloyd Watson and Tom McFarland, more colloquially known as “J & T,” proved they haven’t lost their flair for live performance at the Brooklyn show.
Jungle was opened for by New York-based chill electronica indie pop group Triathlon, whose sound and look embodied the quintessential Bushwick loft party, funky and ambiguous. With every member dressed like a hip ’90s dad, the group performed songs predominantly from their most recent release, “Online,” as well as features from their backlog of amorphous genre crossing shoegaze-y tunes.
Though one might find their sound more suited to an afternoon of substance-induced loafing about, their live set was up-tempo, and warmed the audience for what would be an evening of non-stop dancing.
In their typical coordinated all white garb, Jungle took to a stage cluttered with instruments and a deceptively simple set design. The lights went dark and anticipation mounted as the sound of rumbling thunder transitioned into a revving engine. Then, with a flash of white light, the tune to fan favorite “Julia” began to echo around the room.
Incrementally picking up audience energy levels, they followed up with an unreleased tune, then their recently released track “Happy Man,” a lamentation of not knowing how to turn one’s life around having recognized the futility of material pursuits.
Shrouded in a vampiric red glow, they launched into “The Heat” as the neon sign centerpiece cut through the smoke. They went on to perform a blend of unreleased songs and more from their debut like “Drops” and “Lemonade Lake,” each track meshing into the next to create a cohesive collection of glossy danceable gems.
Changing the pace with another unreleased song, they played a down-tempo track which seemed to follow the exchange between two people rather dissatisfied with the other, the chorus going “You’re never gonna change me, I was already changing.” They closed out their first set with their popular dance track “Busy Earnin,’” and returned for an encore of “Time.”
Short on conversation or outstanding personalities, the collective relied little on witty banter, and instead delivered a tight yet effortless show that was far from formulaic. With a fireworks light design and well-timed extended plays, Jungle delivered a live experience that had audience members latched on to every dip, tremor and change in tempo. If ever you get the chance to see them live, don’t hesitate to buy your ticket, you won’t regret it.
Email Xin-Rui Lee at [email protected]