Words by Natalie Blacklock
For those in the know, The Jungle Giants have been kicking around the Brisbane scene since 2011. After coming to national attention following the release of their ‘She’s A Riot’ EP in 2012, the band have continued to grow in strength both on the stage and in the studio. From the early days of playing Track and Field Festival with the likes of Last Dinosaurs, Ball Park Music and The John Steel Singers to sold out headline shows, tours abroad and festival slots left, right and centre, it’s fair to say that the 4-piece from Mansfield (yes, yet another 4122 rep alongside Violent Soho) have definitely made it. Following their release of new single, the experimental and synth-laden Heavy Hearted, in July, the quartet announced plans to embark on their biggest national tour to date this September and October. With only a few dates remaining, The Jungle Giants have made their way back to their hometown of Brisbane for a two-night stand to celebrate as presented by Amplifire, Select Music, The Orchard and Positive Feedback.
Playing host for the Brisbane leg of the tour is the city’s newest and arguably most exciting venue, The Fortitude Music Hall. Located in the centre of the hustle and bustle of the Brunswick Street mall, The Fortitude is a shining beacon of hope and excitement for the future of live music in Brisbane. This new venture; the brainchild of Hutchinson Builders Chairman, Scott Hutchinson and Powderfinger Bassist / owner of The Triffid, John “JC” Collins, has delivered a mid-size venue in the heart of Brisbane’s nightlife, which seeks to serve as a “Festival Hall for a whole new generation”. After entering from the bright lighted mall-side façade, The Fortitude Music Hall opens up into a spectacular foyer, glittering front bar followed by the triumphant two-level, high-ceiling bandroom, which features opulent hanging chandeliers and tiered standing areas for the some 3500 punters to have a perfect view of the stage no matter where they find themselves.
Opening up the evening were A Love Supreme. Since their inception in 2012, they have garnered a reputation for sharing a vision, love and passion for music and its ability to bring people together to build an ever-growing community equipped with quality tunes and good vibes all round. The A Love Supreme crew offered an ambient but groovy house vibe as the crowd slowly trickled in. The laidback start to the evening set the scene just right, with punters of all ages exploring the venue – couples drinking, friends chatting, parents showing their teenagers the live music ropes and even littler children zigzagging their way across the dancefloor.
By the time Sydney’s Adi Toohey took to the stage, the line-up outside The Fortitude was again on the build. Toohey, who has played the likes of Dark Mofo and Splendour in the Grass, has a distinct style which has a strong foundation in ’90s house but is continually evolving through her hosting of Saturday Sunset on FBi Radio since 2014. Once inside, many in the crowd were jostling for prime position, bopping along and chatting away or dashing off for a sneaky beverage in The Fortitude’s sister venue, The Outpost, located upstairs. At the backend of her set, up-tempo beats took over as the stage techs were busily gearing up for The Jungle Giants to get underway. A back-to-back hit mix of Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, Empire of The Sun’s Walking On A Dream and Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by 80’s duo Eurythmics delivered some healthy cheers and a little bit of push and shove in the moshpit – definitely a welcome atmosphere at shows like this.
With a relatively seamless transition, hometown heroes The Jungle Giants took to the stage. The sold out all-ages crowd were uncontainable in their excitement – screaming and cheering in anticipation for the forthcoming dancey indie-pop goodness synonymous with the Brisbane 4-piece. After almost a decade ‘a part of the furniture’ in the Brisbane music scene, The Jungle Giants; Sam Hales (Vocals / Guitar), Cesira Aitken (Guitar), Andrew Dooris (Bass)and Keelan Bijker (Drums) are back with their familiar guitar driven and vocally catchy brand of indie ahead of the release of their 4th studio album (expected in 2020). As a boom of white light encapsulated the stage, The Jungle Giants triumphantly emerged on the stage of The Fortitude Music Hall for their biggest headline show to date. The band look at home in the venue – which could not be more fitting as their bronzed plaque on the QMusic Valley Walk of Fame (a monument to Queensland’s deep homegrown talent) lays just outside the foyer doors in the Brunswick Street Mall. With a hug from guitar tech Brad Fulton, frontman Sam Hales launched the band into the title track 2017 record ‘Quiet Ferocity’, and the chemistry between Andrew Dooris on Bass and Keelan Bijker on Drums was immediate. Loud cheers echoed through the venue as The Jungle Giants took a deep dive into their back catalogue with the catchy She’s A Riot from the 2012 EP of the same name. Frontman Hales did not shy away, exclaiming the band were ‘ready to fucking party’ before jumping into On Your Way Down and some quality ‘dad dance-esque’ choreography on older cut Skin To Bone.
Anywhere Else from 2013’s ‘Learn To Exist’ delivered a solid soaring Guitar solo from Hales, reminiscent of the youthful antics The Jungle Giants burst onto the scene with almost 10 years ago, effortlessly transitioning into a 3500-strong singalong rendition of Happy Birthday in honour of Drummer Keelan Bijker. Transitioning to an acoustic guitar for Blinded, which in a live setting sounded oddly reminiscent of fellow Brisbanites Regurgitator. Devil’s Play is a chance for Sam Hales and Cesira Aitken to present a united front on the Guitars, with their instrumental prowess, musical chemistry and enjoyment on stage is evident. I Am What You Want Me To Be was stellar and brought frontman Hales from the stage to the front barrier, where he let a fan try their hand at the Guitar solo.
Hitting somewhat of a midpoint in the set saw a change of pace as Hales announced he and Aitken needed beer and were turning the show over to Dooris and Bijker for In The Garage. Dooris was a man possessed with his head, body and Bass flailing with every drumbeat. Punters were spellbound as the duo presented a first-class Drum and Bass masterclass that saw every punter’s eyes transfixed to the stage. The band reunited, bringing back the high-energy pop with Feel The Way I Do, People Always Say and Waiting For A Sign. Taking a moment to catch their collective breath, Hales and the band expressed their nerves about the evening’s show – being their biggest headline show thus far and on their home turf, they were thankful that fans, both old and new, were there. They also extended that sentiment of thanks to their crew – Brad (Fulton), Nathan, Tony, Scott and Steve – instructing the crowd to give a ‘FUCK YEAH CREW’ shoutout.
The final song of the set was none other than new single, Heavy Hearted. Frontman Sam Hales forewent the guitar for this one, leaving the shredding to Cesira Aitken who owned the gritty guitar lines. This song is definitely going to be THE festival hit of Summer 2019/2020 and a surefire hit in Triple J Hottest 100 countdown. The call for an encore was answered in spades as The Jungle Giants returned to the stage to follow up their electric set with just a couple more songs. Leading the charge, Hales was the first to emerge to a dimly lit stage to kick off 2012 track You’ve Got Something – and this song indeed has something; even after all this time Andrew Dooris’ backing vocals are still the stuff goosebumps are made of. The final stand of the night, 2017’s Bad Dream leaves the crowd satisfied. With a final sign off from Hales, “Thankyou Brisbane, you’ve been amazing. We’ve been The Jungle Giants. Thankyou”, night one of two sold-out hometown shows was done. The house lights of The Fortitude were lit and the venue emptied, with hundreds of smiling faces milling around the venue doors looking for their friends and the nearest fast food option.
The enthusiasm and love that radiated from the crowd confirmed that The Jungle Giants still have something. The band’s ability to move seamlessly through their classic pop-rock days and onto their indie-electronic fusion moments, with each delivered as eclectically and infectiously as the track before. Frontman Sam Hales led from the front, unleashing a powerful, engaging and effervescent energy that was absolutely contagious to the legions of screaming punters filling The Fortitude Music Hall. It is clear that a band with this much talent and such a desire to still perform as if they have something to prove is the strongest sign yet that The Jungle Giants are not just here for a good time, but a long time.
Be sure to catch The Jungle Giants on the remaining date of their Heavy Hearted tour. For dates, locations, and ticket information click HERE.
Saturday 5 October – The Fortitude Music Hall | Brisbane (All Ages)
Friday 11 October – Luna Park Big Top | Sydney (All Ages)
Saturday 12 October – Luna Park Big Top | Sydney (All Ages)