Matthew Di Panni wants you to be a Mowgli. It’s an invitation that transcends his band’s moniker. While the Mowgli’s are known for hit singles such as “San Francisco” and “The Great Divide,” the bassist for the alternative rock group hopes fans will remember their message as much as their sound.
“Everyone who is a Mowgli is someone who gives back to the community. It’s about taking care of each other,” Di Panni said. “Everyone deserves to have their same basic needs met and be treated like a human being. Being a Mowgli means just to be a good person.”
The band uses social media to spread its message. “We have a campaign called ‘be a Mowgli’ where we encourage people to post their random acts of kindness on social media and hash-tag that phrase along with it,” Di Panni said. “Instead of just photos of your lunch, we wanted to use social media to encourage people to be productive and show something positive. On the road, we’re doing random acts of kindness every day. We meet people at animal shelters, homeless shelters … anything we can to give back. That influences how we write our music.”
Riverfestgoers will have a chance to “be a Mowgli” Friday night at Kennedy Plaza when the band plays during the Indie Showcase. The Austin-based band Wild Child and New York’s Ra Ra Riot are also slated to perform.
The Mowgli’s are a California rock band by genre, though their sound is versatile, with shades of folk, pop, and country. The imagery in their songs draws heavily on the placid coast lines of Big Sur, the foggy charm of San Francisco, and the consummate grind of Los Angeles. The seven member ensemble is made up of four childhood friends who grew up in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles and three Midwest transplants, including singer Colin Dieden, who is from Kansas City.
Their songs are largely cheerful and buoyant. Their latest album, “Waiting for the Dawn,” is a 13 track walk through life. “Hi Hey There Hello” is a simple song about meeting each other, while “Carry Your Will” and “We Are Free” are about rising stronger from dificult experiences. Their biggest hits – “San Francisco” and “The Great Divide” – are jubilant celebrations of love, life, and coming together.
“We have always come from a positive place when we write our music,” Di Panni said. “One of my favorite songs to play is ‘Slowly Slowly.’ It’s got so much energy that no matter what song we play before or after, I still feel that energy during the next song and throughout the set. That’s the one song on stage that I run around for.”
While the Mowgli’s have played in Kansas City before, this will be their first set in Wichita. Their shows are typically high-energy and upbeat. Di Panni said he especially likes playing outdoor festivals because it gives him and his band members – Dave Appelbaum, Dieden, Katie Jayne Earl, Josh Hogan, Spencer Trent, and Andy Warren – a chance to wander around a new city and mingle with the crowd after their set.
“We want everyone who is in the room at our concerts to leave with the biggest smile on their face,” Di Panni said. “We’re here to have fun, and we want you to have a blast. If you’re having a terrible day, come to our show and we hope that everything is flipped for you.