iTunes Festival: Free and Far-reaching

A Lineup of More Than 60 Artists is a Musical Brew for all Taste Buds

Olivia Novotny

Olivia Novotny

With our slender wallets trying to compete with our ceaseless craving to buy new music, many ears have turned away from iTunes and toward the more economical options of Spotify, Bandcamp, and file-sharing. Yet, deep in the preteen corner of my heart lie those precious iTunes gift cards and a frivolous admiration for the top singles chart. These days, the store seems to have its mind set on a choice few genres, but the annual iTunes Festival killed it with getting the goods from all across the board.

Debuted in 2007, the iTunes Festival takes place in London and spans the entire month of September. Every performance from the more than 60 artists can be watched for free on iTunes on any Apple device. From present-day superstars like Mary J. Blige and Maroon 5, to old-timers like Blondie and Robert Plant; from the powerful folk sisters of First Aid Kit to the soft dubstep of SBTRKT; the lineup has music coming from virtually every direction.

Understated and incredibly promising, Jungle put on a performance that laid the pavement straight for stardom.

Performances such as Hozier’s, Jessie J’s and SBTRKT’s were notable and unquestionably solid, but the standout acts include one funky group under the name Jungle. Opening for Pharrell Williams, the London-based band gave a refreshing, decade-mixing performance that one could find at either an EDM festival or at an alternative haven like Glastonbury. If I had to label Jungle’s style, it would be soul-synth-dreampop, like a mix between the psychedelic soul of Sly and the Family Stone and the battery-operated fuzz of Neon Indian. While watching their 45 minute performance from my laptop, I was melted into the couch by the smooth, high-flying melodies coming out of this seven member band. Seven people that look as if they were snatched from different corners of a 1980s college campus and thrown into a band together, then sprinkled with the magical dust of musical grandeur. Understated and incredibly promising, Jungle put on a performance that laid the pavement straight to stardom.

Yet, there was a performance that even surpassed Jungle’s: that of a soul-pop band from England called Rudimental, a group I had never heard of prior to watching the iTunes Festival. The performance was in high gear from the moment the group entered the stage until the encore, which exploded with ardor typically reserved for bands performing their final concert together. Ranging from a four-piece group to a ten-piece group depending on the performance, Rudimental is known for treating every member equally on stage, resulting in a multitude of lead singers and lead instrumentalists. This internal tangle of different voices and styles creates a melting pot of sounds, justifying the tag of “liquid funk” they are often categorized under. Rudimental nailed it in crafting an experience that allowed both the audience and the musicians themselves to simply have a damn good time, a seemingly obvious but often forgotten task.

For a limited time, all shows are currently available to watch both live and after the performance via the iTunes store.