Tom McFarland of soul collective Jungle performs at the Black Cat. (Josh Sisk/For The Washington Post)

In the rudderless, post-Internet music world, it takes more than a few catchy songs to get noticed. Fledgling acts can try to craft viral videos (such as OK Go) or perhaps embrace anonymity (such as The Weeknd) to garner buzz. When it emerged last summer, West London soul act Jungle tried both, and — judging by the exuberance of the packed house at the Black Cat on Tuesday — it worked.

Jungle is the brainchild of lifelong friends Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland. After toiling in Britpop revival band Born Blonde, the pair set their nostalgic sights back even further, to the funk and soul of decades past. Their first videos featured a baby B-girl, a roller-skating duo and a multicultural dance crew, while the duo remained faceless and went only by “J” and “T.” Eventually, playing live to camera-phone-wielding audiences forced them to drop the shroud of anonymity.

To capture the pristinely produced sound of their self-titled debut album, the duo has expanded to a seven-piece band, adding a talented crew of multi-
instrumentalists, percussionists and vocalists to the mix. Manning guitars and synthesizers while also singing, Lloyd-Watson and McFarland led the band through a loose re-creation of the album, unspooling their songs as jam sessions that went down easily while remaining in lockstep despite the tight confines of the Black Cat stage.

Awash in a spectrum of light and backlit by vanity globes, Jungle’s pitch-perfect performance dazzled the Black Cat crowd. The band succeeded where so many other bands have failed, by getting a D.C. audience to shake, shuffle and shimmy on a school night. In fact, some couples on the fringes seemed ready to re-create the choreographed dances of the group’s videos.

Even though much of Jungle’s material rarely strays from its comfort zone — the falsetto vocals of one synth-washed jam were largely indistinguishable from the next — songs such as “Busy Earnin’ ” and “Time” are irresistible, hands-in-the-air dance party starters. That’s because Jungle’s songs have the feel-good familiarity of nostalgia: those brash brass melodies, wah-wah riffs and in-the-pocket breakbeats have embedded themselves in the collective consciousness.

This type of retro throwback is nothing new: Every few years, a new act rediscovers funk and soul with similar hype-building success, from Junior Senior and Kraak and Smaak to Mayer Hawthorne and Alabama Shakes. But there is certainly something about that style of music that keeps it coming back, with audiences that keep wanting to dance to it.

While the bandleaders were relatively tight-lipped, they expressed genuine surprise at the size and intensity of the crowd. But the refrain on “Lucky I Got What I Want” (it goes “Don’t you forget about me”) is the buzz band’s plea: Will the crowd still be there when the next retro-friendly group captures the zeitgeist?

Kelly is a freelance writer.