by Justin Trudell
Ever since YouTube did me a solid and suggested I listen to “Busy Earnin” about three years ago, I’ve been obsessed with Jungle. I needed to know more. I needed to hear more. The YouTube deep dive quickly made hours of my life evaporate. Gimme all of it: the music videos, the live shows, the in-studio performances, showing up on late night TV – pretty much everything except their Jools Holland performance (because the BBC doesn’t allow us to watch those here in the states). I came up for air about 10 hours later with one question: How soon can I see Jungle live?
The answer? …it’s gonna be a minute.
Unfortunately for me, Jungle were on the other side of this pancake we call Earth for a while. So, I’d either need to take a very expensive trip, or wait. I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, Jungle not only would be touring somewhere I could actually make it to without feeling the need to sell a kidney to visit, but they had a new album, For Ever, on the way, too. I finally got to see them live at the Metro in Chicago, and it was worth the wait.
Jungle have a gold-plated 70s vibe that definitely wasn’t shared by the crowd. One of the most surprising aspects of the show was an audience that seemed to have gotten lost on their way to craft brewery and ended up at a disco. Lots of dudes in their late 20s without much of a sense of style. Not judging, I just wasn’t what I expected to see a crowd with no swag. But, as we all know, looks can be deceiving.
The opening few notes of “Smile” acted as a suggestion for all of us as the whole venue started to sway with the rhythm of the music. Being in the center of it was like being engulfed in the most pleasant mosh pit of all time. Gently grooving from side-to-side with the masses, basking in the glowing reddish gold light illuminating the entire venue.
Jungle make music that’s catchy, lyrically interesting, and layered AF. Between the percussions, bass, synth and vocal harmonies, every track had something to grasp onto and get lost in. They give you more to discover with each listen. I was first drawn to Jungle for their funk and soul music, but when you dig a bit deeper into their lyrics, you find a surprisingly dark look at life and the inherent pressure that comes from trying to find your place. Tracks like “Happy Man” and “Busy Earnin” are about working toward a goal, only to achieve it and still not feel happy.
Jungle’s music makes you think, makes you dance, but most of all, it makes you come back for more.