Few bands can match the level of hype that Jungle have achieved in the last few months. It felt like overnight they went from being unheard of to being everyone’s new favourite band. They might have played Sydney less than 6 months earlier for a Splendour In The Grass sideshow, but now fresh off a top-50 placing in Triple J’s Hottest 100 they were back in Australia for Laneway Festival side-shows. Their fan base, which has more than doubled in this short time, were ready.
The evening started with a support set by Melbourne producer/vocalist Oscar Key Sung. Playing a contemporary mix between R’n’B, Indie, and hip-hop, Oscar felt like the slightly edgier cousin of Triple J heavyweights Chet Faker and The Kite String Tangle. The start of his set was a bit too ambient for the crowd, who initially didn’t falter in their overly loud conversations, but once he started playing bass-heavy trap beats and smoothly rapping over them everyone quit what they were doing and watched the stage. Oscar played an enjoyable (albeit not mind-blowing) set, but he was a strong a misfire as the choice of support. The crowd just didn’t seem comfortable watching a producer perform on stage.
The crowd of the night were a strange one. I stood in about the direct centre of the room, and in every direction the majority of the people around me were over 30 years old. A lot of people seemed to be father-son duos. A lot of these people seemed to trying to drink away a mid-life crisis at a youthful concert. For a Triple J sponsored gig, their core demographic wasn’t well represented. The Metro Theatre website claimed that tickets were still available, however the venue sure felt overcrowded, and I overheard to security guards discussing whether the venue had hit capacity yet from door sales.
By the time Jungle were due to appear on stage, the crowd were getting restless and clapping along to the beat of the song idly playing over the speaker system. It was kind of strange. The entire room had the aura of a dance party were everyone wanted to dance but were self-conscious that they might look stupid if they did, so instead their vented all their enthusiasm into bopping their head back and forth.
Everything in Jungle’s set was meticulous. When a song started playing everyone on stage had to be doing something, whether it was playing an instrument, clapping their hands, or just grooving out while clicking. Nobody travelled on stage but it felt like there was perpetual movement. Everything was perfectly choreographed. All 7 band members on stage worked in unison with each other, the lights, and the audio, down to the millisecond to act like a well oiled machine. It was very clear that they had had a lot of practice to perfect their live set. Jungle only have about a dozen songs in existence at the moment, so they easily smashed through (what felt like) every song they have ever released during their set and left the crowd wanting more.
The songs felt rawer than the studio recordings as you could really hear what each instrument was weaving into the song, which worked amazing as it allowed you to hear everything you wanted to hear while feeling like a new and unique experience. The lighting set up on the stage was a strange choice. There was large walls of coloured spotlights and bar lights behind the band, and for most of the gig these were used to flood the stage with a different colour for each song whilst the band performed in silhouette. Once a song had started there few lighting changes even though the dance-ability of the songs didn’t really adhere to minimalism. The frequency this technique was used resulted in it getting kind of boring by the end of the set and for me to desire just a regular lighting set-up.
Laneway Festival has a knack at only booking artists that are on the way up. Jungle managed to shine through an awkward crowd and bad production decisions to very much prove that they are living up to their obscenely large hype. I would not be surprised if they next time they tour Australia they have doubled their fan-base once again.