Ifirst listened to MUNA by chance while going through a random music playlist. The song was ‘I Know A Place’ and it instantly won me over: it was as good as pop can get. I dug a bit about them and the track, and to my surprise, I understood how the tune referred to a safe haven for LGBTQ people. Needless to say, I instantly got emotionally attached to the band.
The singles from their debut album – ‘About U’ – kept on coming out and they were all superb. It was a no brainer getting my tickets when I learned they were playing in London – for a second sold-out show in a matter of days. Even better: our favourites London-based Otzeki were confirmed as the supporting act.
Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen is a lovely venue. And it looks quite full when Otzeki appear on stage. They kick off with an unreleased tune, creating that tangle of electric vibes that represent their musical trademark. No matter what happens on stage – even when some annoying technical issues with the synths (that kill ‘Falling Out’, one of my favourite tunes out of their production so far) – Mike and Joel find a way to be outstanding. The duo keeps playing with an extraordinary result and Mike’s usual trance-crowd-wandering reaches its peak. The thing is, they are never disappointing. On the contrary, I enjoy them a bit more each time.
The infectious riff of ‘I Know A Place’ bursts as soon as MUNA take the scene, triggering a homogeneous reaction of excitement across the crowd. They are pure energy, and you can feel it instantly. The ideas they condense on their statement-album are most likely shared by the public, and that turns the night into something special, a feel-good environment that only makes you enjoy it even better.
They want to create a “space that’s inclusive and non-threatening” on their gigs. It comes to no surprise that the toilets are “gender-neutral” as requested by the band for that night. MUNA are passionate about LGBTQ rights, and that conscious activism about it and many other social and political issues only make us look at them with even more respect.
‘So Special’ and ‘Promise’ prove the band’s quality and explain their fast climb in the pop world. They are still a best-kept secret, but they have all the necessary ingredients to stay around and get even higher. ‘If You Leave Me Now’, their 80s slow-pace tune gets all of us mesmerised. They are a really engaging band to see live and you simply enjoy it when this happens. Their songs are centered on personal pain and the process of overcoming it: ‘Loudspeaker’ sings about abuse and saving yourself after it, and the dark-beat ‘Crying On The Bathroom Floor’ deals with a problematic and abusive relationship. Their empowering and conscious message feels totally effortless, and their honest lyrics just enrich their well-crafted sounds.
Again, ‘Around U’ is a delightfully sad song that wins you over live while the massive ‘Everything’ takes the maximum energy out of the band, as a mind-blowing piece that slowly builds up on stage. It gives me goosebumps when I see Katie crying out loud “everything is about you to me”, by the end of the song. There’s time for a couple of other great moments. MUNA take the risk to cover Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me To Life’ and it’s another blast. They are synthpop winners, a clear dark girl band to follow.