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Mowgli’s concert brings a ray of sunshine to Brandeis

This past Saturday, the spirit of southern California was brought to Brandeis University, in spite of the gloomy weather outside. Los Angeles natives The Mowgli’s took center stage in Levin Ballroom to an excited audience. The seven-piece alternative rock band is composed of keyboardist Dave Appelbaum, drummer Andy Warren, bassist Matthew Di Panni, guitarists Spencer Trent and Josh Hogan and lead vocalists Colin Louis Dieden and Katie Jayne Earl. Though each member was undoubtedly well-versed in their particular area of expertise, it was the duality in their instrumentation and vocals that truly made them a spectacle to watch.

The night opened with three of Brandeis’ own artists: Remy Pontes and Makalani Mack, followed by Marcelo Brociner. Pontes and Mack lulled the audience with their contrasting yet complementary R&B vocal styles, performing acoustic covers of songs like Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” and The Weeknd’s “Rolling Stone,” as well as original pieces that “don’t even have a name yet,” as explained by Pontes. “Naming songs is uncool these days. I just don’t do it,” he added. In contrast to their smooth, acoustic playing, Marcelo brought the energy of the crowd up in preparation for the main performance of the night. With a thumping bass and high-tempo synth rhythms, it was seemingly impossible to not dance along. Like the high-octane music, Marcelo’s signature rapping style was nothing short of exhilarating.

As the members of the band first walked on the stage, they were greeted with about 80 percent of the audience applauding, with audible boos coming from the rest of the crowd. Though presumably a well-intended joke by friends of the opening acts, Mowgli’s singer Katie Jayne Earl chose to play along saying, “We really would like to thank you all for being here tonight, and for those who were booing us, the door is that way.”

The group’s first song of the night was their hit, “Say It, Just Say It,” off their 2013 album, “Waiting for the Dawn.” Combining their domineering alternative rock sound with vibes of both indie-rock and pop, this is the quintessential Mowgli’s song. Musically, it’s nothing you haven’t heard already from other groups of the genre like American Authors or Walk the Moon, but its upbeat, catchy and poignant lyrics keep you listening until the end.

In contrast to the the alternative-rock themes of the majority of their songs, a few numbers like “Whatever Forever,” “Emily” and “Love is Easy” refreshingly had underlying themes of contemporary indie-folk and country-rock, which stem from Dieden and Hogan’s roots in the Midwest and American South. These musical themes were kept at a minimum to perpetuate the energy of their intensely, feel-good music.

The group’s fourth number of the night, “Room for All of Us,” was written in line with their messages of positivity, acceptance and love, which is reflected in their mission statement, “Love is all you need. It’s been said many times and many ways of course, but it’s truer now than ever.” Released as a single just last week, “Room for All of Us” hopes to spread that message through the worldly influence of the International Rescue Committee, an organization that aids refugees displaced by social or political conflict, and to which all the song’s proceeds will be donated. The group will also be selling a poster during their fall tour in support of the IRC, and encourage listeners to donate directly to the organization as well, reminding them that “Every little thing you do in this world has an effect.”

By far the most entertaining portion of the performance was the group’s two-part finale of their two most popular hits, “I’m Good” and “San Francisco.” The latter of which they had performed on The Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live, and reached #13 on Billboard’s alternative chart in 2013. Like the majority of the night, these songs were more of a conversation, with the members of the band engaging with the audience in a way that involved a fair amount of singing-along, clapping and, most prominently, dancing.

The Mowgli’s will be kicking off their 2015 fall tour this Saturday, Oct. 17, and will be back in town Saturday, Nov. 21 for their performance at Paradise Rock Club in Boston. For those who missed the chance to see this past concert, or new and old fans alike, this may be the last opportunity to see them perform until the release of their next album.

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