Muna is like a Black Mirror episode of bubblegum pop music. Their songs sound like you definitely heard them on your lite-fm station dedicated to hits from the 90’s 00’s and Today! But vague enough that you can’t quite put your finger on what or when you remember hearing it from. If you didn’t have the internet to tell you when their music was released, you’d swear you heard their songs years ago and that the band is living comfortably from royalties from said radio stations. To the generations that grew up back then, the band is doing a killer job of implanting these false memories. To the younger kids, it’s their new soundtrack. Muna encompasses all the hallmarks of the early 00s (Yes, even the fashion) while simultaneously embracing themselves and their audience in a modern era. The trio identifies as queer and non-bianary, and their songs commonly feature the issues that come with gender and sexuality. While being a queer band isnt anything new, an all queer/non bianary trio who can sellout venues across the country while singing about these issues is something to be proud of as a band, and a fan.
In 2020, Muna was dropped by their former label RCA, and after a year, was picked up by Saddest Factory Records, headed by indie sad-star Phoebe Bridgers, who sang with the band on last summer’s smash hit Silk Chiffon. Attendees at yesterday’s Hinterland Music Festival in Iowa were treated to both Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus’s vocals on Silk Chiffon as part of their set. Die-hard fans were waiting with bated breath for the same tonight at First Avenue, but were not let down by opener Jensen McRae’s vocals instead. Luckily, Silk Chiffon can get stuck in your head with-or-without Bridgers on it, and Muna has done a great job continuing to make the song their own and having their openers sit in on the song. It was also the lead single from the band’s self titled, and definitely instant classic record Muna released June 28th on Dead Oceans.
Muna’s songs seem too big for venues like First Avenue’s mainroom. Their last show here was at the Xcel, opening for Kacey Musgraves back in January. Songs like Winterbreak demand a cranberries-amount of reverb in an arena like the Xcel. As much as I love First Avenue, Muna deserves a venue as big (and perhaps more welcoming to queer artists) like The Armory. But that doesn’t stop die-hard fans from singing back every word to their self described “country” songs like Taken and Kind of Girl and the more power-pop ballads like Silk Chiffon and Anything But Me. Even their cover of The Killer’s Mr. Brightside kicked ass and had the whole crowd singing the lyrics back to the band. While their own songs had the crowd screaming the lyrics to Number One Fan they were also singing along to their pre-show soundtrack, which featured songs by Phoebe Bridgers, As well as The Cranberries Linger, Dido’s White Flag and Sixpence None The Richer’s cover of There She Goes. All of which were gentle singalongs from the crowd that matched the vibe.
The show was also being live streamed, and singer Katie Gavin gave a shoutout to the people watching live who couldn’t be there in person if it was too “spooky, or from any number of circumstances’ ‘ she said. The Trio also made the most of the stage on every song. Guitarist Josette Maskin was all over the stage at times, guitar in the air, and encouraging the crowd to sing along. Vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Naomi McPherson perhaps was the most still of the three, but just as powerful while Katie and Josette made sure no part of the stage remained untouched.
It’s rare to see this kind of power pop in a venue as small as First Avenue, but its going to be what makes this show memorable to everyone in attendance when Muna sells out arenas with giant microphones strapped to their faces in a couple years. In an era where so many bands shoot for this kind of pop music and this kind of community, Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson nail it perfectly. 2002 called, and they’re jealous of Muna.