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MUNA ignites The Fillmore with festive fire, queer freedom

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KAYLA SIM | STAFF

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NOVEMBER 02, 2022

Twirling under the glow of pink and orange lesbian lighting, MUNA had the audience of The Fillmore wrapped around its fingers the night of Oct. 23.

Effortlessly enthralling, the band opened with the euphoric “What I Want,” lighting the show’s spark. As pink strobes gave way to dusky red and black, it tumbled straight into “Number One Fan” without pausing for breath, setting the fluorescent show’s quick pace. “I’m your number one fan!” audience members chanted as MUNA jumped and spun onstage, now the subject of its own infatuated lyrics.

The band, which was formed in 2013, is made up of a queer indie pop-rock trio: lead singer Katie Gavin, guitarist Josette Maskin and guitarist/keyboardist Naomi McPherson. It would be impossible to categorize any of the performers as the band’s singular heartthrob — with the ebb and flow of its synergy working together in tandem, the group’s allure is simply irresistible.

Their chemistry was only further stimulated by good-natured banter, which culminated in long, comedic sessions between songs of back and forth jibes, sharp wit and shared history. “They should give a Grammy for stage banter. Don’t you think?” Gavin asked at one point. The band’s casual but wildly entertaining repartee was made even more captivating by the fact that years ago, Gavin and McPherson used to date. Slyly alluding to their relationship, the band’s intrigue began to take more solid shape — equal parts queer revolution, sex appeal and explosive personality.

Songs such as “Solid” were potent with vibrant joy, blue spotlights cascading around them in translucent, shifting pillars. Punctuated by choreographed hair flips and jumping, “Home By Now” packed the same carefree punch, its fast-paced nostalgia brightening the room imperceptibly as all three musicians swayed and sprung about, each adrift in their own catharsis. Even a cover of The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” made the setlist, the alt-rock hit taking on fresh excitement when backed by Gavin’s signature high-kicks and full body twirls, Maskin’s charming, cheeky grin and McPherson’s intoxicating insouciance. “Oh my god, I wish I wrote this so f—ing badly,” Gavin said. 

The show’s euphoric, colorful celebration was strongest in its intense but earnest moments. “Runner’s High” dealt in ethereal escapism, pairing surreal black and white strobe lighting with dreamy vocals. The melted wax of Gavin’s voice bled out from under the pounding drum and guitars as light projections flashed on The Fillmore walls. As they slowly disappeared in cyclical repetition like the endless fade of a rearview mirror, all aspects of the performance built upon the complicated, exhilarating feeling of leaving.

As impressive as its incomparable talent, MUNA’s playful confidence triumphed onstage. Bathed in hot red lighting, its self-proclaimed “horny” performance of “No Idea” was punctuated by Gavin’s sultry sway, and by Maskin tugging at the guitar, hips dragging in a sensual staccato. “You have no idea/ The things I think about you,” Gavin sang, as Maskin knelt at her feet and flicked the guitar strings in a plateau of seduction. 

It’s still rare to have queer music that is celebratory rather than steeped in pain, and MUNA’s casual, joyful representation of queer sexuality, inundated into every facet of its performance, is one reason the band remains blindingly trailblazing. 

“Picture this,” Gavin said, setting the scene for “I Know A Place,” one of the very first songs they ever wrote together off their debut album About U. “We’re in a dorm room in college, and we were just three queers that were feeling this hopeful rage that maybe at some point we could find the space where we could feel totally free to express ourselves.” Alongside rainbow pride and trans flags draped over the microphone, the song built up a purifying liberation, successful in its creation of a space for others to experience release as well.

Queer joy is what MUNA is known for most widely, especially after the popularity of the band’s 2021 single “Silk Chiffon” featuring Phoebe Bridgers. The song, already a classic, remains just as exalting a year later — as the night came to a close, the sapphic anthem saturated the encore with eruptive happiness. Opener Jensen McRae emerged for Bridgers’ verse, and the four musicians bounced buoyantly alongside their feverish audience.

“Life’s so fun!” MUNA sang brightly as soft blue light gave way to rose gold, slowly spreading across the stage until The Fillmore burst with jubilation.

Contact Vivian Stacy at 

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NOVEMBER 01, 2022