Lights dim. The crowd electrifies. Pride flags raise and swing with excitement. Synths buzz while three indistinct figures appear onstage, waiting amid fog and blaring stage lights. MUNA has entered the building.
Nothing other than unmediated finesse can describe MUNA, the band consisting of three of the most prominent voices in indie pop who’ve taken hold of the industry in recent years. The all-queer-identifying group makes some of the most vibrant and resonant pop music on the market today — mixing personal, unfeigned lyricism with a bombastic, purely addictive production style. The true oneness of MUNA was on full display during their appearance at San Francisco’s The Warfield, in certainly one of the best showcases of talent, presence and catalog that has been toured in recent memory.
Opening with “What I Want” from their most recent album titled MUNA, the powerhouse group established everything one could expect from the night: dancing, feverish excitement and carefree queer joy. The room exploded with the lyrics “I want to dance in the middle of a gay bar” — transforming the space into a full-on celebration of queerness. MUNA matched the crowd’s energy, jumping and dancing amid guitar-playing and keyboard arpeggios to take complete control of the stage. This was their moment.
The party didn’t stop as the group ran through the first act of their set, sustaining maximum energy from song to song. Their performance of “Solid” seemed to shake the entire building as lead vocalist Katie Gavin kept the audience entranced with sultry vibrance, and guitarist Josette Maskin delivered showstopping high-jumps on guitar. Meanwhile, guitarist/keyboardist Naomi McPherson appeared effortlessly cool during all parts of the set. “Runner’s High” marked another unforgettable moment in this act; as blue lights slowly washed over the group and became enraged in the song’s colossal chorus, the venue suddenly morphed into a rave of unstoppable verve.
In completing this first act, MUNA found itself caught in what seemed like an endless standing ovation from the audience, with McPherson saluting the crowd in thanks while Gavin and Maskin appeared stunned by the sheer amount of love. “It’s actually crazy,” said Maskin, reflecting on the crowd’s applause. McPherson chimed in: “Bay Area, what the f—k is good?”
Their surprise at the audience’s love for them and their music, while earnest, seemed out-of-place given that they had just offered some of the most show stopping performances ever. The energy and sense of self radiated by MUNA is wholly unmatched; their love for their craft is palpable. They can’t be compared.
The second half of MUNA’s set was dominated by a mix of new and old — the group spent much time on new, acoustic-leaning renditions of songs from their debut LP. These ushered in a much-welcomed rejuvenation period within their set, where fans could appreciate in simple terms their talent and majesty. Their stripped-back performance of “Winterbreak” was a brilliantly emotional take on one of their very first released tracks and boasted the versatility of the group beyond the boundaries of pop. All of their musical reimaginings proved the limitlessness of MUNA as artists, making it nearly impossible to discount the unbounded potential of the group.
MUNA’s onstage chemistry brought a new meaning to stage presence. Each member of the band consistently played off the others; whether they were literally chasing one another in the middle of “One That Got Away” or just sensually grooving together, it was a joyful display of how connected this band really is. It’s clear that their shows build a rare sense of community and closeness, which made their show feel like a serendipitous meeting of friends.
The group finished their triumphant set with an encore performance of “Silk Chiffon,” bringing out opening act Nova Twins to duet in place of Phoebe Bridgers. Although this is MUNA’s biggest song to date, the performance seemed more like a victory lap: The group had already shown everything they were capable of, and had little to prove. That’s because the trio had already demonstrated that they reshape the world wherever they go, leaving behind nothing but an unshakable desire to recapture their glamor, even if just for another night.