Live Review: Jungle Love Festival

1 December 2015 | 1:13 pm | Jake Sun

"More than the sum of its parts, this a festival that strives to provide an all-encompassing creative and communal experience."

For its second year Jungle Love has moved location to Borumba Deer Park in Imbil and the vast natural beauty of these grounds makes it the perfect setting for such an event. The Queensland heat can be the most daunting of rivals when it comes to a multi-day festival experience, but here the tree cover is bountiful and the main areas of action are situated alongside a stunning creek.


It doesn't take long for the festival-goers to settle in and make the most of their plentiful surroundings and there is an instant sense of community and comradery around the place.

Across four stages the programme offers up an abundance of activities and entertainment including music, art, poetry, panel discussions, yoga, meditation and much more. Such variety is not uncommon of festivals but in this case the level of consistency and quality across the board is quite bewildering. The fact that such a vast array of talent can be found locally is a solid testament the creative fertility of our own backyards.

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The psyche tinged indie of The Belligerents has a lot of charm to it on tape and in the flesh the appeal only increases. Their stage presence is made all the more captivating by their vocalist's manic movements, which provide the music with an expressive illustration of sorts. They do little wrong in the space of their set and the response of the crowd is warm. 

Performing solo for the beginning of her set, MKO SUN lures the crowd in with her vocal gifts. Once joined by her bandmates the performance gains more momentum and the soulful sounds sink into deeper electronic grooves. The momentum keeps gaining throughout and by the time final song, Light Has No Mass, brings the set to a close a sense of balance is achieved. 

Indigenous supergroup Yarwah light up the stage with their intense energy. They draw from the deep wells of their culture and mix it into a contemporary musical cocktail that packs quite a joyous punch. Frontman Fred Leone delivers some of the most inspiring rapping that can be heard anywhere in the country and the music that carries his words holds equal weight. Part way through the proceedings Tjupurru breaks into Smooth Criminal on his Didjeribone and it's a truly joyous moment, among many. Inspiring music and inspiring messages!

From the moment they take the stage Bullhorn are explosive. Seven horn players, one drummer, and one MC make a mad musical dash forward and it appears like nothing could stand in their way. The huge brass blasts and percussive grooves create a wondrous assault on the senses and the machine gun raps invite the mind on a high speed ride. The dance floor is excited into a state of near-mania throughout and by the time their 50-minute set comes to a close they appear to have won over a great many new fans.

One-man wonder Omegachild serves up a potent instrumental brew as he brilliantly balances the duties of playing drums and keyboards simultaneously. The mix of electronics and live instrumentation dance in harmonic symbiosis and this dance is powerfully illuminated by captivating visual projections. When a brief Alan Watts monologue is triggered footage of India merges into the cosmos and it creates a brilliant effect. It's already a solid set but just to top it off we are gifted with a cover of Underworld's Pearl's Girl — great stuff!     


Whether it's meditation, yoga, sound bath healing, or a calligraphy workshop, there's myriad ways to ease on into the second day. Jungle Love's programme has just the medicine for the next morning woes, and the creek provides a constant lifeline for any time of the day.

Seven-piece sensations Astro Travellers come on slowly, taking their time with a relaxed intro that pays homage to Cypress Hill's I Wanna Get High. It doesn't take too long, however, for them to kick into gear and once they do the crowd responds with delight. Two male MCs deliver verbal telegrams of cosmic conscious hip hop and a female vocalist intersperses these with lyrical transmissions of soul. The band is both laid-back yet funky and the presence of sax decorates the whole sound with gorgeous flourishes of melody. It's hard to believe that after only two years together as a band they are in as good form as this — watch the skies!      

After two years away from the stage and a line-up change Mr Maps make quick work of proving they can still cut it in the live arena. Their tight rhythmic grooves have a hypnotic effect that seduces listeners into taking the ride along on their little instrumental voyages and each one brings rewards. The highlight of the set comes halfway through when a timely streak of lightning shoots across the sky behind them, providing the perfect visual for the intense climactic build of the song underway. It's a resounding success throughout so here's hoping there's less of a wait for their next live outing. 

Things get turned up to 11 with Osaka Punch, who slam down some of the heaviest riffs of the festival. They play off a high energy mix that mostly encompasses funk-rock, prog, nu-metal, and what their vocalist giddily refers to as "honky-tonk death-metal". At times it seems like a strange fit for the Jungle Love vibe but variety is rarely a detractor and a good number of festival-goers make the most of this opportunity to inject a little mayhem into their expedition.

For the second night running HHAARRPP put on a marathon performance that transforms the chai tent into an other-worldly zone for the extended duration of three or four hours. Hypnotic electronic melodies oscillate into an underlying fabric while trance-inducing rhythms of guitar, bass and vocals are weaved in and out. Costumed dancers slowly lurk around, contorting their bodies through the space to create a spookily corporeal effect. All this is rounded out by a powerful visual display that includes a bubble machine and two projectors splashing the ceiling of the tent with an ever changing kaleidoscope of patterns. It's a realm to get lost in and many can be seen sinking deep into the surrounding couches with little intention of moving anytime soon.   

More than just a blast from the past, Resin Dogs are still a live force to be reckoned with. Their high octane live sets earned them quite the reputation when they launched onto the national stages back in the late '90s and little has changed as far as the quality they deliver. If anything their set seems as relevant as ever to the current musical landscape, which is probably due in large part to the pioneering influence they have had on the now flourishing Oz hip hop scene.  

There a few live acts out there that push the limits of intensity as hard as Monster Zoku Onsomb. An absurd frenzy of electronic beats and warped vocals pour forth from a stage that looks like it's been invaded by the colourful guests of a B-grade horror convention. Their stage presence and performative vigour constantly lights an extra spark under their musical mayhem and helps to incite the bodies on the dance floor into hyper states of movement throughout. An extremely daring a fresh approach that is one of the festival's major highlights! 

In Void channel the spirits of many of the psychedelic greats and put them to work on a harder hitting style of prog-rock. Vocalist Declan Kelly invokes Jim Morrison through much of the set, yet it never seems like a half-arsed attempt. While many are lost in the shadows of their influences, this is a band that demonstrates a confident character of their own. Through menacing moments they explore the darkness but never lose sight of the beacon of light.    

By the time Jungle Love comes to a close for its second year it's been another resounding success. More than the sum of its parts, this a festival that strives to provide an all-encompassing creative and communal experience and it certainly hits the mark. Start the countdown for round three!