When I got to the Black Cat, the modest venue was the most crowded I’d ever seen. The opener was a British indiepop band called Beaty Heart, who garnered a great reaction from the crowd with their autumnal, melodic hooks a-la-Vampire Weekend. By the time they took their leave, the club’s main room was packed, with a line still out the door and down the street.
The cheer that went up when Jungle walked onstage was astounding. The band, built around core duo Josh Lloyd-Wilson and Tom McFarland, has seen its self-titled debut spread like wildfire, after appearing out of thin air – no demos, no early shows, just instantly-made artists, complete with an international tour and an enigmatic image.
In Daft Punk’s delightfully offbeat animated music-film Interstella 5555, an alien band from another planet is kidnapped and brought to Earth, hypnotized into performing otherworldly music for human audiences, who love it so much that they don’t notice how unnaturally perfect the band is.
It was kind of like that. Jungle was so on point, right down to their interactions with the crowd, that every moment felt superhuman. It was impossible to imagine the seven-piece band (including two fabulous backup singers) rehearsing the songs that slid into one another so well; the only was Jungle could be conceived was fully-formed, springing from the ether right to the top of the charts like Athena from Zeus’s head.
Their show created a scene that was half Bee Gees, half nightclub. The lights were simple primary colors, but dazzling; the crowd seemed to be comprised of tall, good-looking, well-dressed dancers. Their set was relatively short, barely lasting an hour, but the music never stopped for more than 10 seconds at a time. “Drops” and “Time” both got extended codas, giving the crowd room to dance comfortably in the impossible-to-ignore pulsing beats. Encore “Busy Earnin’” was the true highlight, though every song was mixed so perfectly that I cannot find a single improvement.
They didn’t say much to the crowd, and the songs sounded just like they did on the album, in every good way. It was rather surreal. It was powerful. It was different. It was unexpected.
Take it as you will.
—Asher Meerovich (@Bummertime)