By Diana Hernandez and Katie Sanna
Gothic sensations MUNA sold out the Brighton Music Hall on February 24th, only months after opening for Grouplove at the House of Blues. MUNA is a self-acclaimed “dark pop girl band” from Los Angeles. They create a variety of alternative music that includes funk, R&B and synthpop elements. This blend is highlighted in their song “Around U” which features a prominent synthpop backbeat and a R&B reminiscent chorus. Their compelling pop choruses create a stark contrast to their darker, more serious lyrics. The contrast between the dark lyrics with upbeat music draws fans in from the first listen, and creates a loyal fanbase that was seen at the show Friday night. People reacted in a range of ways: passionately screaming out the hooks to dancing without a care. The band prides themselves on their ability to create pop music from a punk standpoint. Their multifaceted talent has allowed the group to tour with Grouplove, play Lollapalooza and even play on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
The trio formed in 2013 at the University of Southern California. They’re Katie Gavin (lead vocals/production), Josette Maskin (lead guitar), and Naomi McPherson (rhythm guitar/synths/production). Katie Gavin added a pop sound to Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson’s original progressive rock sound. Each member of the band identifies as queer. At first, the band did not want to be labeled as a “queer girl band.” However, they decided to use this labeling to their advantage as an inspiration to younger fans. Their songs also promote self-love and address many prominent issues about sexuality and gender. “So Special” speaks against the issue of slut-shaming in today’s society. At Brighton Music Hall, MUNA opened with, “I Know A Place.” This song let everyone in the audience know that it is a safe place for the LGBTQ community through its lyrics, allowing their fans to feel safe while also playing an uplifting beat. Next, “So Special,” the first song off their album, About U, told girls across the world how special they all are. Not only did fans feel this way when MUNA released their album, but also live at their concert.
The safe space described by MUNA for their fans is evidenced by the concert itself. The diverse crowd, marked by its broad range of people of all ages, were uninhibited by societal constraints. The lights turned bright as the trio entered the stage and went straight into hypnotizing their fans with the sound of Gavin’s voice, Maskin’s lead guitar, and McPherson’s rhythm guitar. MUNA pulled the crowd in with beats perfect for dancing, and hooks meant for singing along with the band, the entire concert acting as an act of push and pull between the crowd and the band feeding off its energy. The crowd couldn’t help bouncing up and down to the rhythm of the songs as Josette Maskin jumped while playing the guitar. The band succeeded in creating an environment that was uplifting but also recognized the internal struggles of every person in the room, leaving every person walking out of the venue feeling refreshed and understood. Although the catchy pop hooks had every person humming “I don’t know why” under their breath as they left, the true value of the words had the longer impact. MUNA has carved its own distinct place in pop with its powerful messages that promotes love in all forms.