Live Concert Review: Jungle with Ibeyi and Sunni Colon
SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park
June 20, 2015
As I’ve mentioned a number of times over a series of posts, this summer has arguably been one of the busiest summers in the history of JOVM; in fact, it’s been so busy that I’ve been spending whatever free time I have actively trying to catch up with everything. In particular, June was a rather busy month as my dear friend and colleague Natalie Hamingson and I covered the Northside Festival and the New Music Seminar, New Music Nights Festival. Of course, this was followed by up several SummerStage shows, random shows across town and my annual trip down to Coney Island for the Mermaid Day Parade.
On this particular day, I was actually shooting the post-parade festivities and was thinking of Nathan’s crinkle-cut French Fries when an iCal alert on my iPhone reminded me of a show that I had wanted to cover and somehow completely forgot about — Jungle and Ibeyi at SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield. Luckily, the alert came up a couple of hours before the show and actually allowed me a chance to make the trek from South Brooklyn to the Upper East Side.
The night opened up with the Los Angeles-based producer and singer/songwriter Thierry Tetsu, whose musical project Sunni Colon features the singer/songwriter backed by a guitarist and sampler. Sonically, the project bears a resemblance to the fantastic Moses Sumney and to Dev Hynes’ Blood Orange; in other words, it’s soulful, thoughtful, heartfelt pop — that can be dreamy and funky. And as a result Tetsu has received attention from OkayPlayer and RocNation among others; however, as much as I want to go in liking an opener, especially when most of the crowd is there for the headliner(s) and doesn’t care who you are, this was a tough one as Tetsu’s stage presence was painfully awkward — to the point of being rather uncomfortable. Admittedly, I suspected that it may have been one of the larger crowds he played in front of, and to boot, playing in front of an New York crowd can be intimidating to even the hardiest of performers. But personally what made it tough is that I thought his material was lacking and largely forgettable.
(Photo Caption: Sunni Colon performing at SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield.)
The French-Cuban, twin-sibling duo and blogosphere sensations Ibeyi came up next and they were honestly the champions of the night, as the won the audience over with their enormous smiles, their gorgeous harmonies and their material, which as I’ve mentioned here on a couple of occasions effortlessly bridges the African Diaspora on both sides of the Atlantic.
(Photo Caption: Ibeyi performing at SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield) Last but not least were the night’s headliners, the London, UK-based funk collective Jungle, whose self-titled debut effort has caught attention across the blogosphere for a neo-disco/neo-soul sound that bears a resemblance to contemporaries such as Jungle, Jazzanova (in particular, their Funkhaus Studio Sessions album) and Stereo MCs. And although their recorded sound is impressive, it is incredibly familiar — to the point of seeming a little unoriginal. And sadly, their live set was a bit disappointing as several songs seemed to bleed into one, and as a result it made their set drag, especially after they’ve played the singles that dominated the blogosphere.
(Photo Caption: Fans anxiously awaiting Jungle’s headlining set at SummerStage Rumsey Playfield)
(Photo Caption: Jungle performing at SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield)