Gig Review: JUNGLE Vibes At The Fonda Theatre

Almost all musicians today are eager to make themselves known on the internet to rile up hype and attention to their work. When I was researching Jungle, a two-piece that expands to a seven-piece live band, I was only able to find out that 1. they’re a damn fantastic soul collective from London 2. they’re only on Facebook. If you listened to their debut album “Jungle”, you’d know why. The credibility of their music is enough to pull listeners in and keep them there.

Photo: Joyce Lee

Photo: Joyce Lee

Flashing, golden lights donned the stage as the Londoners strolled onto the platform for the opening show of their US tour. Lead by frontmen who simply go by the names ‘J’ and ‘T,’ Jungle took the stage with swagger at the Fonda Theatre after Beaty Heart, their opening act, warmed up the crowd. As soon as the band started playing, people vibed as if it was the first time they heard funk music.

With six guys, one girl, and a ton of stage equipment, Jungle creates a unique sound and atmosphere that is unlike any other. With hints of Chromeo, Daft Punk, and the Bee Gees, J and T don’t just create solid tunes–they make grooves. Their catalog abounds sirens, chimes, and disco-funk, but everything is done with so much control that none of it sounds too busy. Throughout the set, band members seamlessly swapped instruments as they hypnotically swayed their hips to their tunes.

Mid-way through the night, everyone and their moms were on their feet, reciprocating the band’s live energy via groovy dances moves. I was particularly impressed when the band played “The Heat,” as I spotted half a dozen glass Coke bottles dangling by Dom (percussion) that were used as key instruments in the song.

When the band stepped off, the rowdy crowd went bonkers chanting: “Encore! Encore!”–clearly, no one wanted the dancing to stop. This was clear even when the band stepped on to round off the night with my personal favorite, “Busy Earnin’.” Repeating the line “can’t get enough,” J and T mirrored the crowd’s emotion as no one wanted the night to come to a close.

Watching and dancing along to their show, it’s no wonder the band’s debut was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize Awards this year. They only played a handful of US festivals this year (SXSW, Lollapolooza), but expect to see their name pop up on next year’s festival line-ups.