By MEGHAN KEARNEY // Making their first appearance in Portland, Australian trio Jagwar Ma exploded through brilliant psychedelic dance party at Mississippi Studios
A Friday night at Mississippi Studios instantly became an unparalleled psychedelic rave orchestrated by Sydney, Australia's Jagwar Ma. The trio, made up of producer Jono Ma, vocalist/guitarist Gabriel Winterfield, and Jack Freeman on bass, sold out the venue despite the band’s first ever appearance in Portland.
Jagwar Ma, having only one LP under their belts, exploded through tracks off Howlin and their forthcoming record Every Now & Then due out October 14th. Opening with "What Love," first track on the 2012 record, the initiation felt proper and nostalgic for a Portland crowd familiar with recordings verses live sets.
It was immediately obvious that this live set would be something entirely different from their recordings, amplified tenfold with strobes and wild visual backdrops, extended intros and transitions, improvised new vocals, and a sound that felt far too massive for the smaller capacity venue.
Seamless transitions brought each track together leaving not a second of empty airspace. Four songs into the set, including two new tracks “Loose Ends” and "O B 1," the crowd already covered in sweat appeared to be overwhelmingly impressed.
"Man I Need" was the point in the set where everything started to build and never slowed down, led by Winterfield fierce on guitar and transitioning between falsettos and shivering, powerful bellows. The energy of the crowd followed suit.
"Say What You Feel," another unreleased track was a softer bit of love song. Contagious smiles rippled across the crowd as Winterfield bounced through charming little jigs, with a spirited enthusiasm so genuine it was impossible not to catch.
"Come Save Me" was a performance almost indescribable, kicking off with the catchiest bass and longing words; producer Ma adding new layer upon new layer of heavy beats and synth to the backend that was one more explosive breakdown after another until the entire venue was for lack of a better description - completely losing their minds.
The encore kicked off with crowd request for new single “Give Me A Reason” to which Winterfield verbally obliged, though following the setlist. Final new track performed, "Ordinary," was an adorably poppy banger with hints of disco that most certainly assured Howlin’s follow-up will fulfill its high expectations. The set closed off with the heavily dancey “The Throw” which seemed to last upwards of fifteen minutes as the trio continued to blast through building beats and breaks, each one upstaging its former until the exhausted closing second.
For a first time trip to Portland, a set so perfect could only leave all wanting more. With the release of their second LP just over a month out (which you can pre-order here), hopes for a quick Jagwar Ma return to the Pacific Northwest remain high. We’ll be first in line waiting to alert you.
O B 1
Man I Need
Let Her Go
Say What You Feel
Come Save Me
Give Me A Reason