The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Witching Hour: Jack Lion @ Gabe’s 10/13/18

Jack Lion’s set starts right on time. The crowd at Gabe’s is intimate and the venue is marked by the sporadic splay of grey lights flickering on the bar ceiling throughout the set. On stage though, the band is illuminated by a rainbow of colored lights: purple, blue, yellow, red.

Jack Lion (Image via All Senses Festival)

The band is comprised of three men: a drummer, a bass guitarist who also seems in charge of the sampler, and a trumpet player. They are spread apart on the stage’s surface, music the common denominator. Naturally, your ear gravitates toward the trumpeter.

At first, the eye is almost fooled into thinking it is going to watch some kind of new wave show. and, that’s not too far off. With the amount of digital music equipment on stage, the trumpeter is the only remnant of jazz amidst the wires. And it works.

Jack Lion (Image via: Iowa Public Radio)

There is absolutely no other group like Jack Lion. Mixing lo-fi samples with jazzy upbeat overtones, this band is an impressive hybrid of the digital and analog. The group makes this sound coexist so well, it’s almost easy to forget just how innovative Jack Lion really is with their discography of genre meshing.

There is no apparent singer in the band. The crowd almost seemed alarmed half way through the set when one of the featured samples on the set list had even the hint of lyric attribute.

The music remains charged with feeling though, operating without a word. Lyrics seem needless with the type of thick harmonies this group employed throughout their set.

Each band member is a musician in their own right. The drummer alternated between rock rhythms and large scale drum breaks to slow-moving jazzy soft beats. The simple scrape of the drums would signify the meshing of genres. The bass guitarist, most center stage, operated a sampler and a bass, sometimes at the same time. Finally, the trumpet player came armed with a MacBook. This band’s creative quotient was so high, it felt like they were almost creating directly in front of you. Needless to say, the energy was electric.

Jack Lion (Image via The Daily Iowan)

Bands like Jack Lion prove that in the midst of soulless chart-topping pop, innovation still exists. Even further, it exists with a unity between genres that spand decades. Sometimes, these genres would coexist in a single song— the audience always felt on the same page as the group, creating a participatory live experience that was truly one-of-a-kind.

I left the show with the unforgettable sound of a trumpet, echoing toward the audience like a brassy bell. The harmonies unified with a sample of repetitive, measured beats and topped with rock-based drumming.

If you’d like to check out Jack Lion’s music, here is their bandcamp.