New Music Corner: Jungle Concert Review



Ryan Weicht Staff Writer

On Wednesday, March 20th, English duo “Jungle” performed a show at Union Transfer. Jungle’s music is hard to classify, with many people pointing out its funk, soul and electronic influences. The band performs as a collective of musicians, with consistent members and lead musicians Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson at center stage. The two have been friends since childhood, forming Jungle in 2013 after being a part of other musical groups. Their debut album, Jungle, was released in 2014. After four years of commercial and touring success, the band released their sophomore album, For Ever. 

Jungle has been touring Europe and North America since. Their recent performance at Union Transfer was their third visit to the venue.

Jungle’s concert was both visually and auditorily pleasing. The band has chosen not to play over prerecorded sounds, instead opting to use a large ensemble of musicians to replicate their recordings. Thus, while the music replicates the sound of its recordings, it also possesses a live flair gained from the multitude of instruments present on stage. The sweet falsettos of Lloyd-Watson  and McFarland are the highlight of the show, but they are complimented by two backup singers who ensure that the sound is well-rounded and captures the magic that has made the band popular. Several tunes were changed in the live show. Some songs became more impacting and soulful, while others were changed from mellow to riveting jams. The song “Drops” specifically was transformed into a lengthy, funky and electric masterpiece, energizing the fans just before the encore.

The performers made excellent use of the space that they were given at the concert. Though Union Transfer does not have the biggest stage, Jungle’s setup still managed to look imposing and convey an aura of grandeur. The band’s name was emblazoned across an array of golden lights, which would flash throughout the concert and emphasize certain musical climaxes or emotions. In general, the lighting was perfect. The band would end songs and send the entire stadium into a blackness that felt like a TV-show cliffhanger, making fans insistent on hearing the next song. The band’s outfits ranged from smooth suits, to minimalist dresses with flair, to relaxed but sophisticated streetwear, yet each one complimented the other — especially with utilization of color consistency. Jungle has always been a very visual band, and their concert certainly continued that trend.

Most impressive was the band’s ability to make their performance evocative. Lloyd-Watson and McFarland smiled throughout the entire show, and fans could easily see how much they truly loved their music. By the end of the show, people were dancing incredibly intensely, and there was a notable portion of the crowd that was moving and shaking to the funk together like a wave.

Jungle’s concert was one of the most impressive that I have seen, and it left me with an array of emotions that I have never before felt from any other performer’s music. I would certainly recommend Villanovans to attend future performances by the band if given the chance.

Before the show, I had a chance to catch up with McFarland and Lloyd-Watson at Union Transfer.


The Villanovan (TV): Your music has been described as anything from “Neo-Soul” to “Funk-Pop.”How would you classify your sound?


Josh Lloyd-Watson (JL): Yeah, I think we try not to put it in genres. Genrefying music when you’re making it is quite difficult to do. Once we’ve made the records, you can kind of see themes and things you might have been influenced by. I think funk is definitely one we’ve been influenced by over the years — it’s kind of seeped into our souls. Electronic, too. But that’s a broad spectrum, and we try to make things that sit between genres.

Tom McFarland (TM): Which is why people struggle to describe it – you can’t really pinpoint what it is or what it isn’t.


TV: So going off that, what do you think makes your sound so unique? There’s nothing else really like it.


JL: I think that what makes it unique is us. Each and every person on this planet has the ability to create something unique. It’s just about trusting yourself and trusting what you believe in. For us, we experiment and then pick sounds based on what we like to hear. And I think that’s the rule of making stuff: if you paint, you want to paint stuff that you feel natural painting rather than trying to be someone else. There’re influences who you might wear on your sleeve, and you make use of them briefly but you try not to think about it too much.


TV: You mentioned influences — are there any artists that have inspired your sound?


TM: When we were growing up we were listening to the Strokes, the Chili Peppers, all sorts of stuff. [Addressing Josh] You listened to a lot of Chet Baker when you were a kid. I didn’t really have jazz in my life, but you did.

JL: We used to listen to a lot of UK hip-hop. Then other classic records from great artists. We like great music: Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye. Even things from folk to… anything that sounds good. Steely Dan, Neil Young, Van Morrison, the list just goes on.

TM: But then you also have vision art, theater, film and books. We really try to look at influences elsewhere rather than, ‘I just want to sound like that or write a song like that.’ It’s about finding a new world or creating one.


TV: And you guys do have a lot of vision art associated with Jungle. Was that something that you guys thought up?


TM: Yeah, it’s just funny ideas we had. When you’re a kid, you have this concept you can do anything. You turn a cardboard box into a spaceship. [Referencing merchandise] So when we thought of things like “Jungle Football Club” we wanted to make a football shirt, so we did. [Referencing a car seen in music videos] We built the car as well, just because we wanted to.

JL: I think it’s all about having ideas and executing them. A lot of fun things can seem stupid, like ‘Nobody’s ever going to watch that’ or ‘That’s stupid, why would you go make a car.’ Well, why not? And the more we try and do that, the more we unearth happiness within ourselves. When you create and have a project to work on, that’s always where happiness is. You feel like you have a value.


TV: I’ve heard you guys talk in other interviews about your image. You started out not publicizing a lot, and now you’re coming into your own. Do you think you’re leaning into it, or being less reserved?


TM: It’s all about realizing our fans deserve to know who we are and can hold us accountable for our art and music in a weird way. Because this album is so much more about our own personalities, feelings and experiences, I think there would have been a disconnect.


JL: I think you’re right about that. We felt like we were taking away from the fans. All they want to do is find out what’s going on and what you’re up to because they like the music. There’s a connection there that brings you back to the music, because we want to connect to as many people possible. How would you get to an audience if you were being almost arrogant, like ‘I’m not taking part in Instagram’? It’s a whole debate, but Instagram is really just a basic network. It’s just connection. There’re things about social media that we know are quite dark and narcissistic. I think everyone battles within themselves whether to post something or not. It comes down to that fundamental fear of being judged and accepted. But we’re on Instagram because we like connection, bringing people to gigs, letting our music get to as many people as possible and letting them enjoy it.


TV: It’s been great seeing you guys get bigger. What sort of things are you guys excited about for the future?


TM: Excited about for the future, wow. [Laughs] We could go really deep, because I’m really hopeful for a landing on Mars.

JL: Depends on if you’re talking about our future or the future.

TM: Really, we’ve got a lot of exciting stuff coming up for this summer. We’ve got a couple festivals here, in Knoxville, Alabama, and the Bronx. We do Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle as well. So, we’ll be back out here in the summer, which is always nice. We have lots of big European festivals, we’re going back and playing Glastonbury, and Primavera Sound in Barcelona. But yeah, it’s all pretty exciting!