The fall Barn concert series got off to a rousing start last Thursday, Oct. 4, with two sets from UCR’s own Pococurante and the Los Angeles-based band The Mowgli’s. While there were glaring differences in the bands’ respective genres, both managed to pull off memorable and exciting shows that helped breathe some life into the new school year.
As Pococurante took the stage, fans immediately came to fill the empty space, many sitting cross-legged about 10 feet from the stage. Lead singer Stephen Fong immediately encouraged the crowd to get closer, and with that nearly everyone stood up and the party was a go. Starting off with a funky instrumental song, Pococurante continued to amp it up throughout their set, mixing funk and rock to keep everyone not only rocking out, but dancing. An enthusiasm for their own craft was shown all through their songs as they bopped their heads and jumped around through extended Chili Pepper-esque jams. Though some of the aforementioned jams could run for a few minutes at time, the flow never seemed interrupted or too long, and ended with the crowd cheering enthusiastically for them. They seemingly contradictorily chanted, “calm your head, calm your way,” throughout one of their songs as the entire crowd bounced around. After playing a new song called “Dreamscape,” they announced that a recorded version of the song would be put up on their Facebook page next week. As they ended their set with an extra member with a saxophone, the crowd seemed disappointed they ever had to leave. What they could not predict was The Mowgli’s even wilder set up next.
The Mowgli’s brought a wild folk-rock and hippie-like atmosphere to their set. Their opening song, “Hi Hey There Hello,” transcended from a light and airy duet between members Colin Louis Dieden and Katie Jayne Earl, to a boot stomping, howling fun time. About half of the eight person group was barefoot, further showing how little they cared, and just how free they wanted to be. From that opening number, the show really took off. The group behaved like their namesake (the wild child from “The Jungle Book”) by constantly jumping all over the stage, seemingly in coordinated madness as eight people shared the tiny space. As it happened though, the stage could not contain them. Singer and guitarist Dieden at one point climbed and hung off the rafters above the drum set, while Michael Vincze (who plays the same instruments) climbed the speakers and also, in Mowgli-like fashion, hung like a monkey from the rafters. Dieden could also be found on the floor with the crowd for much of the show, dancing around. interacting and having fun with the fans.
Beyond their physical energy, however, The Mowgli’s proved to have just as much talent jumping around as they did musically. Though most of their song structure was simple, their catchy melodies and airy, soothing, and at times crazy and uplifting harmonies brought them to the next level. The music message was one of happiness—as if they didn’t have much to prove but to see if they could bring your spirits up. There were moments of solemnity, as Vincze lit incense from the mic stand and proceeded to bless some of the crowds feet, to moments of pure joy as they erupted into a cover of “I Wanna Be Like You,” from “The Jungle Book,” and dedicated it to the kid inside.
The overall feeling of the performance that The Mowgli’s seemed to want the audience to grasp is that songs with all positive lyrics and vibes can be a nice break from the troubles of life, and to give worrying a break and just let loose. After the entertaining and humorous show, Dieden let the audience know that for those who couldn’t afford their album, they could sign up for their mailing list and receive a free digital copy. The free and positive spirit of the group truly lifted the students on hand to a hopeful start to the new school year. In a sign of solidarity and camaraderie, Dieden ended the show by saying, “We are The Mowgli’s and so are you. Good night!”