Words by Mark Spero

A year and a half ago, MUNA, made up of singers and multi-instrumentalists Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson, were playing in their garage. In the past year, they played Lollapalooza, made their network television debut on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, and toured with Grouplove. On Friday, February 3, they played at the Rickshaw Stop to a sold-out crowd who sang every lyric of their album, About U, which dropped the same day. Now on their first headlining tour, MUNA’s talented musicians are proving that their music will soon fill bigger venues.

After a short set by Popscene‘s resident DJ Aaron Axelsen, Urban Cone, a Swedish pop band, took the stage. Their sound is reminiscent of MGMT and Tame Impala, and the audience was quickly dancing and singing along. Even though they were just the opener, the crowd knew most of their songs and a core group of fans pushed to the front stage. Urban Cone’s blend of complex drumming, pop synths, and funky guitar kept the crowd moving for their entire set.

During the set change, three white microphone stands wrapped in flowers were added to the stage, and when the lights dimmed the crowd exploded in applause and screams. MUNA took the stage and immediately began playing their queer anthem “I Know A Place.” Their album is beautiful and detailed, and their live show brilliantly improvises around the songs, giving them new life. After their first song, they paused, laughing, and yelled “Our album is out!” They thanked the lovely audience, and their family in the crowd, and shouted “We are going to play the album!”

MUNA was literally jumping around the stage for their songs “So Special” and “Winterbreak.” Through the dense sound, their piercing harmonies and intricate guitar riffs showed their many musical talents. The band studied pop music at USC, and after self-releasing an EP entitled More Perfect on Soundcloud, they signed with RCA Records. Since then, they have refined their sound to an ’80s-tinged electro-pop, reminiscent of Phil Collins and Whitney Houston, with modern peers including Maggie Rogers and Charli XCX.

During their hour-long set, MUNA praised the exuberant audience, who were crowded close to the stage, screaming during every song break. MUNA seemed to be having more fun than anyone, and at the end of the show they took a moment to talk about the emotional growth that took place while writing the album, and their hope that people would continue to resist the new administration. They closed the show with their single “Loudspeaker.” The packed crowd roared with applause as MUNA left the stage.

In an era of pre-recorded tracks and technically lackluster musicians, MUNA is all-around brilliant. Their musical talents and love of catchy pop, combined with their important messages about love, sexuality, and queerness, make them a truly gifted band to experience live. Their shows take excellently assembled music and breathe vigorous life into every moment. Seeing them in a small venue is excellent, and soon they may be dominating festivals and theaters.