The summer solstice occurs when the tilt of a planet’s semi-axis is most inclined toward the star that it orbits. For us, the citizens of planet Earth, that date is June 21st. It is the official beginning of summer, the time of vibrancy and energy; the crescendo of the seasonal cycle, if you will. What a fitting date for a night of two performances displaying the ever so different points on the electronic music spectrum in a resoundingly similar energy.
Kicking off KRCW’s World Festival of 2015 were Jungle, one of the finest exports to come out of the UK in the recent years. As I entered the Bowl I was very curious to see if Jungle’s renowned live performance could actually live up to the standards of the venue, as both in terms of capacity and the fact that that same stage had hosted some of the greatest musicians of all time, I was anxious to see whether Jungle would be able to sustain and deliver the energy that forms the heart & soul of their band.
The electrifying body and soul of Jungle shook the crowd to their bones. It is impossible to watch Jungle and not be mesmerized by the energy that pours out of their performance. Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson have made the conscious decision that they want to be a band that differentiates themselves from others by their live performance, and boy do they deliver. With their funky guitar grooves reminiscent of Nile Rodgers and a dominant keyboard sound that can only be described as “what would Herbie Hancock sound like if he was born in London in the 90’s”, Jungle gave a performance that was just the right mixture of raw energy and funky sounds. The band played most of the tracks from their self titled 2014 debut, with tracks like Time, Busy Earnin’ and Julia forcing everyone from the front row to the nosebleeds off their seats to dance like they were at a rooftop in Peckham.
As the sun went down and the lights faded out, Karl Hyde, Rick Smith and Darren Price; also known as Underworld, took the stage. Touring in support of the reissue of their 1994 classic dubnobasswithmyheadman, the band kicked things off with Mmm… Skyscraper I Love You. The subtle rhythm underlying the track immediately transformed the Hollywood Bowl into an open air club. The strobe lights flickering inside and around the dome of the stage helped the vibe become even more resonant, and when Hyde’s vocals kicked in it was already apparent that the band before us was undoubtedly one of the greatest electronic music acts of all time.
Underworld made their way through classic tracks like Rez, Spoonman and Jumbo as Hyde kept on showing that even while he’s approaching his fourth decade as a performer, his energy on stage is a force to be reckoned with. The visuals were gorgeously planned to emphasize the eclectic style Hyde displays on stage, as he transformed himself into a sinister electronic music devil with his mimics and dance moves. The drums pounded ever so lightly and consistently as the crowd danced their way through the night, with glow sticks in their hands and a smile on their faces.
As the night was approaching an end, the band rounded out their set with two of their essential cuts. “You bring light in!” echoed Hyde’s vocals as the pulsating synth lines of Two Weeks Off sonically shook the Bowl. The last tune of the night was arguably the most famous Underworld track, “She said come over come over, she smiled at you, boy.” cried Karl Hyde as the iconic Born Slippy brought the evening to an end. The word Solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), yet ironically on the 21st of June, 2015 at the Hollywood Bowl; the sun was nowhere to be seen, and nobody was standing still.
Photo Credit: Victor Frankowski
*photo taken from http://www.underworldlive.com