When it comes to live music, we are certainly spoiled here in Toronto. On any given night, you can find literally hundreds of acts filling many a bar and concert hall. Yet when summertime rolls around, we are bombarded with so many festivals that it almost feels as though the added traffic congestion from all the tourist activity doesn’t even make the world class acts which we attract worth attending. At a recent event at Metro Hall Square, where the aging Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin played a free show for thousands spilling out onto King St. W, I heard more complaints about the view than comments on the set list, and the only movement within the crowd was the mass exodus which occurred when a few drops of rain threatened to dampen the situation. Dancing? As if. When is she gonna do RESPECT?
Then there is Jumple. Formerly known as Pavlov’s Dog Orchestra, this aberrant group of Slavs with more energy than a hyperactive eight-year old on a pixie stick bender have created something unique and very special. Something that draws in curious onlookers and brings out the party in even the most jaded and party-worn. Each show begins with their frontman (and captain), Eugene Lantsman, violinist, Ruslan Nebesov and accordionist, Kirill Fondler, lambasting the sidewalk outside their show’s venues with an interactive, up-tempo jaunt through traditional Russian-Gypsy-Balkan-Klezmer rhythms and melodies. This is not to say that the performance that you are in store for is anything even mildly resembling traditional.
The main event is an all-night dance party where Jumple blend their original, self-styled Gypsy-Pop/Punk/Rock/Disco tunes that include everything from wild sing-alongs to a tremendous version of Metallica’s Enter Sandman that must be experienced to be fully appreciated. What can’t be ignored is Jumple’s ability to move the crowd, who rage unabated through the entire set with sweaty bodies bouncing to the relentless oom-pah grooves that are Jumple’s signature. This is where the band’s catch phrase “We are Jumple and so can you!” begins to make perfect sense. Their undeniably infectious sound allows for no rug to be left uncut.
If you aren’t moving at a Jumple show, you should probably see a doctor.
“We just like to see people dance finally, and with this material we are getting that. It works.”
Where they find the energy to maintain such a pace for so long is a mystery, but the effect is addicting. Each show brings out a loyal group of Jumple Junkies who are hooked on the high that is the Jumple experience. Lantsman, who considers himself a performer first and foremost, runs the show as the animated Captain alongside drummer and vocalist Matski Matski Matski. Drawing influences from such groups as Gogol Bordello and Devotchka, the group brings an incomparable potency to their performance which is as spectacular as it is invigorating. Jumple is worth every ounce of energy and vodka that you can put out and take in.
(All photos by Devon Stewart)