It’s been two years since I last saw them and I think I managed to forget just how wild The Jungle Giants are!
There were some worried looks on the tech crew’s faces as they were fumbling around with equipment and The Jungle Giants still hadn’t hit the stage. The concern made its way into the crowd too before the lights went out to loud cheers and Candi Staton’s ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ filled the venue. It took ten seconds for singer Sam Hales to have the crowd wrapped around his finger: “How you doing Melbourne? Oh shit you look good, really good.” We would eat up every word he said but it was the performing that was really captivating. The tone was set from their opening song, ‘What Do You Think’ with a red and blue lights show, Sam yelling into the mic, and him eventually playing the outro laying on his back like a true rock star.
Sam and the band clearly recognised the crowd response as he continued to address us. “Let’s see how much energy we can burn in the first five songs. I want everyone to get LOUD!” And we did. ‘Anywhere Else’ was an early highlight with clapping along, singing along, and the band showing their usual willingness to break away from recorded versions and put a bit more into their live performance. And then it was ‘Mr Polite’, just three songs in, that sealed the deal; this was gonna be one hell of a performance. The crowd was jumping up and down for every chorus and the energy was being well and truly burned.
The Jungle Giants and the capacity Melbourne crowd continued to feed off each other. “Holy shit you guys are awesome! Let’s go fucking nuts and see how far we can take it!” The back and forths were wildly entertaining as a fan baited Sam to scull his beer. “I’ll scull it, fuck you!” Of course, you don’t go to a gig solely for banter and the rendition of ‘Lemon Myrtle’ was yet another epic, with black and red lights, and an unexpected flute solo! ‘Kooky Eyes’ saw Sam request another sing along from the buzzing crowd. “If anyone knows the lyrics, or even if you don’t know them, just scream something out that fits the syllables.” The request was fulfilled with a loud rendition of that popular line, “Do you want to be my girl?”
The last few songs continued what the first few started: raucous energy and uncontrolled insanity, both on stage and in the crowd. Not much needs to be said about how good the performance of ‘She’s a Riot’ was, with the dancing both from the band and the audience reaching peak intensity and just about every word being sung along to by the hundreds of fans. As the set was wrapping up, a consistent drum beat and clapping hands played behind Sam thanking the fans for coming. ‘I Am What You Want Me To Be’ capped off an awesome set and had Sam dive into and literally swim on top of the crowd. “I wanna try something here” he said, as he told everyone to get down on their knees. “Stay down. No, stay down. On my count, everyone jump.” Fucking epic!
Honestly, I thought that was it. You don’t really need an encore when you finish that strongly but the 170 Russell crowd gave The Jungle Giants the loudest and most genuine “one more song” chant I’ve ever heard. “Ok, since you asked so politely.” A much more intimate rendition of ‘You’ve Got Something’ opened the encore with Sam playing solo and just a white light shining on him. The rest of the band joined after the first two choruses to dial the energy right back up before the finale.
In a night of high quality stagetalk, Sam made sure he’d won over each and every one of us. “I’d like to thank you now for being one of the fucking best crowds we’ve ever played for. You know what? You are the best. You’re the best crowd in the world. I wanna see you grooving like a fucking dick to the next song.” One last hurrah, ‘Every Kind of Way’, saw nobody hold anything back. “I wanna see every fucking person in this fucking venue fucking jump one more time.” A final explosion of energy before the lights shone on the disco balls above the crowd. The night was one hell of a reminder that The Jungle Giants know how to rock, something I’m not likely to forget again.
Hometown: Brisbane, QLD
Latest Album: Speakerzoid, released 07 August 2015
Sounds like: Tigertown, Grouplove, Young Maverick
Say what? It’s clear enough from just hearing them speak but The Jungle Giants are just big kids. Their Instagram is one of my favourites with classic nonsense like this one of “Sira’s Doppelgänger”.