Jungle by Night’s New York City Debut Is a Smashing Success

July 13th, 2015

Jungle by Night – Rough Trade NYC – July 11, 2015

Amsterdam is famous for lots of things—museums, canals, coffee shops—but blistering, dance-’til-you-drop Afrobeat is probably not one of them. Well, not yet at least, but if Jungle by Night continue to put on shows like they did at Rough Trade NYC late on Saturday night, that could change. Making their New York City debut, the young Dutch nine-piece wasted no time getting things going with an early percussion breakdown that got even the most no-no-I-don’t-dance types in the room moving like they had the Saturday night fever. The crowd proved to be especially volatile, and Ko Zandvliet, serving in his double role as trombonist and emcee, found a willing audience for his hamming, getting everyone clapping along, waving their arms and even attempting to sing in Dutch.

The band felt like multiple teams tightly stitched together into a cohesive unit. Up front, the horns—trombone, tenor sax and trumpet—were a battering ram of melody, pounding away at melodies both joyous and dark. The backing section of two percussionists, a drummer and a bassist provided textured rhythms that loosened every limb and joint in the room while the guitar-keyboard combo pulsed somewhere in between, adding psychedelic depth. Each of these groupings built to individual, overlapping climaxes in every song, keeping the temperature in the hot-and-sweaty range for the entirety of the show.

The set featured plenty of material off their 2014 release, The Hunt, as well as new songs that stretched their unique Afrobeat sound even further. One of the newer ones featured a moody organ-and-bass section that was deep and lovely. Another, the recently released single, “El Miraglo,” was an infectious cumbia with double trombone solos. Both proved that Jungle by Night might just be scratching the surface of potential ways to get people smiling and dancing. The band members had as much fun as the crowd, grooving to one another’s solos, undulating and jumping onstage. After 80 minutes of ecstatic party music, the Jungle by Night finished with “Attila,” an explosive jam that found peaks upon peaks while Zandvliet urged everyone to huddle up front in a group hug so that they could “feel the love” before finally concluding their NYC debut. —A. Stein | @Neddyo