Photo credit: Bristol PA Hire
After seeing Jungle live in Singapore back in 2015, I never imagined I would watch them perform on stage again in Colorado Springs. I remember standing beneath the midday sun, on the grass lawn at the Gardens by the Bay Venue in Singapore, waiting to watch the band I had listened to on repeat, perform live for the tiny, but incredibly enthused city. Jungle wasn’t terribly well known at the time, at least in Singapore, and I remember watching a speckled crowd thicken instantly as the music began. I watched the collective of talented, and enthused musicians gain energy with the crowd, and the experience truly began to feel somewhat symbiotic. Although started by just two talented musicians, Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson, only two years prior to their visit to Singapore, Jungle is a music collective that now embodies community, inclusivity, and shared energy. I remember looking on stage with the impression of witnessing an orchestra perform, except I’d never danced like that to the sound of an orchestra.
Three years later I find myself patiently waiting within the dark, intimate setting of The Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, comparing the crisp chill outside to the humidity I remembered from Singapore. Three years and their songs “Busy Earnin’” and “Heat” still remained on my dance playlist; I anticipated the surge of energy I experienced in 2013, and watched other members of the audience as they waited excitedly. After two funky openers, who left the crowd animated, but full of energy still, a longer interlude from the DJ informed let the audience know Jungle was next. As the music died down slightely, deep red lights filled the room, and the crowd began screaming with excitement as the members of the band rolled out on stage.
I stood from a raised ledge that stretched down the side of the venue, and watched as the audience members fed off of the energy exhibited by the band, and the band absorbed the vigor from the crowd. The small venue space seemed to fill completely, and not a single person in the room remained still. The sound feels like a modernized combination of soul and funk, and it feels impossible not to move to in one way or another.
When Jungle plays through bluetooth speakers in the living room of my home, all I can think about is the experience of watching their live performance; the spirit of performance makes Jungle about being there, more than anything else. Not only does Jungle make their music about participating in it, but they make themselves accessible too, travelling halfway across the world to share their sound with the Colorado Springs community!
This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to see the first night of Courtney Barnett’s North American tour promoting her most recent album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, released this May. My sister and I navigated our way through a crowd of IPA-drinking and Blundstone-wearing 30-something-year-old fans and eventually made our way to the front of Denver’s Ogden Theater. I’ve been lucky enough to see Courtney twice before – once with Kurt Vile promoting their joint album Lotta Sea Lice at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, and another time at Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta – but this was the most intimate venue I’d seen her play.
From the moment she stepped on the stage, no one could take their eyes off of her. I don’t play guitar myself, so I’m not typically apt at telling a guitar virtuoso apart from a player who’s just okay, but after watching Courtney’s intricate fretting all over the guitar neck, I realized what exceptional talent she had. She’s been praised countless times for her lyricism, but her abilities on the guitar are seriously underrated.
If you’re already familiar with Courtney Barnett, you’d know that she’s been lauded for her witty attention to detail and ability to create memorable songs out of mundane events ever since she started making music in 2014. For instance, some of her best-known songs are about an asthma attack, house hunting, and eating ramen noodles. However, some of her songs are a much more personal and vulnerable account of life through her eyes. The audience lost it when she sung one of her most well-known songs, “Pedestrian at Best,” and everyone yelled with her as she screamed “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you! / Tell me I’m exceptional, I promise to exploit you!” Her self-deprecating remark is an ironic statement about not wanting to be fame that inevitably comes along with being a musical phenomenon.
Similarly, one of the songs on her new album is titled “Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence” and here she is also especially critical about herself (“I never feel as stupid as when I’m around you / And indecision rots / Like a bag of last week’s meat”). However, she still comes across as uninhibited – never caring how her audience will receive her perceived self-consciousness. Even though that songs ends with her claiming “I don’t know, I don’t know anything,” and repeats it literally twelve times, it’s obvious that one thing she does know is herself.
At one point during the show, she introduced one of her older songs “Are You Looking After Yourself?” by telling us she wrote it after a long phone call with her parents. The song begins with a line that was spoken by her parents: “Are you working / hard my darling? / We’re so worried,” but she counters their criticism with: “I don’t want to no 9 to 5 / Telling me that I’m alive.” Later in the song, her parents suggest “You should start some / sort of trust fund / just in case you fail.” I imagine that being a musician, especially one who writes so personally like Courtney does, can be terrifying since she has to constantly rely on others’ validation and positive reception in order to keep going. However, Courtney replies with a sarcastic response and sings “I don’t know what I was thinking / I should get a job… / should get married / have some babies / watch the evening news.” The thought that Courtney, a woman of such obvious talent, would quit making art and instead get a job is ridiculous.
Her humble attitude helps explain why 1,600 of us in the sold-out Ogden Theater were so entranced by Courtney for her entire two-hour long set; she’s so devoted to her work and in love with what she is doing that we couldn’t help but marvel at all of the energy she put in to every note and every word. Thanks, Courtney, for blowing us all away once again, and I hope this won’t be the last time I see you!
Since its formation, and after their first year spent playing with other artists of a variety of disciplines, Jungle has become a seven-piece band. J and T resisted the route of re-producing their music and performing on laptops, and instead rendered their music into authentic, live performance. J and T understand music to be a collective and collaborative experience, and that energy is absolutely palpable when they perform.
Their first album, “Jungle,” was released in 2014, and since they have released various singles, and just recently came out with a new album, “For Ever,” on September 14th of this year. The music collective has travelled across the world to perform, and will be visiting Colorado Springs for the first time next Friday, September 28th, 2018.
Jungle’s style is often characterized as “midtempo 1970s funk,” with sounds such as tropical percussion, wildlife noise, falsetto yelps, and psychedelic waves. Whether it be the inclusive nature of the band, or perhaps the diversity of their sound, Jungle offers a performance of absolute energy.
Be sure to check out CC’s Concerts and Shows Facebook group for carpool opportunities to the show. We hope to see you there.
LISTEN: “Busy Earnin’”
Gwen Wolfenbarger is behind one of Colorado College’s most unique sounds. Also known as Seal Eggs, her new album Sunday Will be Snow is a beautifully ethereal collection of layered and looped tracks, she describes as “drinking Sleepytime Vanilla tea….” that truly “sounds like winter.”
I remember the first time I saw Gwen perform in Cornerstone last year, I was brought to tears during her performance of “One Day”, which is featured on the new album. She drew on many inspirations during the composition process, one of the most important being the journey of understanding her transition, which expresses itself thematically through the development of the tracks. Gwen describes the progression of the tracks to reflect her transition: “begins hopefully, kind of sinks into depression through the middle, and then ends on another positive note…I think the most depressing part is dysphoria”.”
Gwen’s process of composing, recording and performance is extremely unique. During composition, Gwen describes the process as a “snowball effect”. Sound-layer upon layer build up after long periods of improvisation, to produce a sound she didn’t plan out. Because of the complexity of her tracks, I am dumbfounded at her ability to reproduce this in live performance. During performance, she describes her experience: “I forget that I’m even performing for anyone, and so its incredibly jarring when at the end there’s an applause…I am extremely vulnerable to the memories and experience of the transition.” She describes getting lost in the music and the performance; music is her form of escape. The songs themselves are intimate and exposed, and this is clear through Gwen’s raw emotion. It is a beautiful experience just to witness a Seal Eggs performance.
I asked Gwen about what music means to her and what she thinks it could do for others. Of course this is a big question, but she comments on how music has always been the biggest and most important part of her life. Even before she could play any instruments (which she plays many and if she doesn’t, could learn in an unfair amount of time) baby Gwen was found chewing on her family’s upright piano. To this day music envelops her life, “I don’t even know where I would be without it, music is my best friend.” There are clear resonances of Gwen’s musical background in choir throughout Sunday Will Be Snow. Music frames Gwen’s experiences of the world and in terms of her new album; music has been a very healing experience. It was not only a healing experience for Gwen, but as a huge fan of her music, a restorative experience for all listeners.
Catching up with Gwen on her new album also led to some entertaining responses about Sunday Will be Snow:
Q: “If you could collaborate with any musical artist who would they be?”
A: “One of my big influences, Grouper. She’s a drone singer and guitarist from Portland who uses a lot of tape loops…. A lot of it sounds like it’s underwater.”
Q: “What colors and shapes embody the essence of this album for you?”
A: “Powdery blue and pink definitely, I mean those are the trans flag colors. Also warm colors like burgundy. Shapes would be spirals and circles.”
This past Saturday night CC students gathered at 666 Uintah to let out some energy to the sounds of CC student bands Ominous Animals and Kauzmann On Ice. Above the roar of friends gathered around, upbeat guitars and smashing symbols keeping the room sweaty, lively, and full until the bitter end.
While I personally showed up late to the Ominous Animals set, friends like Lena Farr-Morrissey shared that they brought a lot of energy to the room with groovy jams like their rendition of “White Room” by Cream. They have been consistently creating an incredible atmosphere for every live set. These talented musicians have been around the CC music scene for a few years now and they that have come together under the name of Ominous Animals. The crowd always adores their performance and were sad to see their set end.
After the crowd filed out quickly for a short smoke break, Kauzmann On Ice followed Ominous Animals to complete the night. While Kauzmann On Ice was the name of this band this past Saturday, the official name of this group has yet to be decided. So continue to keep an ear out. With influences from CC student bands such as the beloved Randy and the Reptiles, curiosity elevated the crowds excitement. Extended downtempo jams on the guitar gave the room a spacey ambience as those next to me began to shut their eyes and dance for nobody but themselves. As the tempo increased so did the amount of collisions in the crowd. A perfect mixture of groovy bass, upbeat guitar, and loud, rhythmic drums riled up the crowd for the climax of the night. A crowd surfer passed overhead and fell soon after, but everyone still had smiles on their faces.
With another dynamic performance from Ominous Animals and Kauzmann On Ice’s lively debut show, Saturday night was one to remember. The intimate venue, the abundance of tigers, and high-spirited music created an exhausting yet refreshing experience for those who were lucky enough to attend. Keep an ear out for these bands next show, you don’t want to miss it.
Photos by Leo Turpan ’18
“I worked at a pizza joint, a hotel, sold beach chairs for a while, landscaped, worked at a couple restaurants, a Denny’s. There is always downtime, and I recorded some melodies I liked on a pocket recorder while washing dishes. With the money from the jobs I craigslisted a guitar, drums, bass, and a synth. COLD CUTS was born straight out of my experiences with life, friends, women, and selling beach chairs.”
Lots of plastic bins, overflowing trashcan, eager freshman and opening convocation all mark the beginning of the new school year. While most people are forced to transition from summer break to a heap load of academic work, many students such as Quinn Webb, current events manager of Sounds of Colorado College (SOCC), have been working to make sure this transition and the bustle of first week is also complete with a music event and of course, free food.
This Friday August 28th from 9:00pm-12:00am in Gaylord Hall, Bay area band Part Time and student band Touchit will be providing the musical entertainment for the night. Featured on music blog Stereogum’s artist to watch, Part Time is a must see for anyone into synth pop, nu wave, rock or just having a good time. If you are a bit unfamiliar with the band, I suggest listening to their songs “Seashells” and “Night Drive.” Of course, a musical performance at the college would not be complete without a student band opener, which would provide a very special opportunity for new students to have their first Colorado college student band experience and a special opportunity for us returning folks to remember just how talented some of our friends are on campus.
After all the fun and entertainment, the night will be complete with midnight breakfast to feed hungry bellies after hours of dancing. What truly makes this event special other than the fact that this will be a great first weekend event to bring the community together but also that the SOCC staff has been working extremely hard over the summer to ensure that more musical performances will be happening throughout the school year with the hopes of something new and exciting happening blockly.
Nic Titus – Keyboard, moral support
Emily Naranjo – Rhythm Guitar
Eliza Densmore – vocals
Kyle Lutz – Bass, chief negotiator of internal affairs
Austin Langsdorf – Guitar and Vocals, Keeps the reptiles blood warming up to survive
It’s 6:30pm and I’m sitting in the main room of some house on Monument, as Randy and the Reptiles get set up to play. I have never been to a band practice, but the imagine of teenagers banging on instruments in someone’s garage while the neighbors cringe in fear always comes to mind. However, Randy and the Reptiles were a bit better than that. In this room clad with blue walls and stained with the smell of cigarettes, great music was created.
“I think it’s the full moon, I’m feeling crazy” says Austin. Maybe it was the full moon or maybe we can blame everything on the weird telekinetic vibes that were occurring between members in that room because the music was electrifying. There was not a moment when my foot was not dancing and tapping to the tunes. This is the music that people want to hear: good music from good people. If you ask them how to describe their sound they may use terms such as “mediocre,” “demonic,” or ” or even “cold-blooded.” However if you ask me, I’ll be a bit boring and say funky, soulful and electric. In many ways the sound was warm and vibrant, but this would be interrupted with a nice strong attention catching attack. An attack that had the potential to send your body into chills after being caught by surprise.
Oh and how could I forget about the vocals? Eliza Densmore, although small, packs a big punch and has the power to knock you off your feet. Combine that with Austin’s bluesy voice and Kyle’s vocal pizazz and you get the creation of something like hard cider, sweet and delicious yet powerful.
So, how did these wonderful people all come together? Apparently Austin asked Kyle, who was playing his guitar in Rastall, if he wanted to play in a band. Then on a separate occasion Nic drunkenly explained to Austin that he really wanted to be in a band and it turned out that they were looking for someone to play the keyboard. Depending on whom you ask, the big group came together out of love and mutual passion and it’s a good thing they did because they are definitely going to bring more to the music scene at CC.
What’s next for the group? Kyle screams out “World Tour” and Nico replies “The International Expo.” Apparently they are both wrong and Acacia Park is really what’s next. Are they actually serious about this, I’m not really sure but I guess we will find out soon. More realistically, they are planning to write more originals this semester and practice some new covers. Lastly, Austin explains that they are planning to “create a safe space for people to get groovy without fear of judgment, competition, repercussions. We would really like to be just a fun band that everyone can get down to. We aren’t trying to do it for being cool or winning or being the best band. We just want to get down.”
Honestly, I’m excited to see more of Randy and the Reptiles playing this year. If they are anything like what I saw in their band practice then we all should be excited. As for who Randy is? That’s something I’m still trying to figure out. Kyle explains, “We had just climbed Mt. Everest and Eliza was half dead on account of oxygen.” Nico adds, “A lizard scurried by and we thought wait. Reptiles.” Somewhere along the way Emily realized “that’s the only life up here.” There you have it. Randy was born. I do not know how legit this story is and you do not have to buy it, but you can buy their music because that was something honest and pure.
Photo Credits: Hannah Fleming