Hoxton Square Bar – 28th March
As a band that claims to tackle socio-political issues through straightforward-sounding pop, you’d be forgiven for assuming MUNA might be a group that takes themselves too seriously. Yet the LA-trio’s output is a quasi-political pop in a way that seems to nod towards what riot grrrl could have sounded like if the scene had taken its cues from synth-pop instead of punk. They’re probably here to soundtrack queer dance parties rather than political rallies. And tonight they prove why that’s probably just fine.
Live, MUNA are energetic, captivating and use the word “vibes” a lot, toeing the careful line between sleek performance and impromptu party singalong, so much so that their activist undertones are swept away in favour of having a good time. Set opener ‘I Know A Place’ is a self-proclaimed safe-space ‘anthem for the LBGT community’, in which lead singer Katie Gavin promises “I know a place we can go, where everyone gonna lay down their weapon”, but its giddy bassline and ecstatic chorus makes it a short step away from sounding at home on a Taylor Swift album. They show versatility though: mid show, there’s a surprisingly on-point cover of Evanescene’s ‘Bring Me To Life’, a dark curveball in an otherwise overwhelmingly uplifting set.
“You guys are giving us really good energy,” is the mantra they repeat throughout, visibly humbled by the packed-out crowd. By the time they close on ‘Loudspeaker’, a song about shaking off the shame of sexual assault, the band and audience combined enter its impossibly euphoric bridge by belting “I don’t know where the blame lies, but you better believe I’m not gonna carry it all!” and their live show feels mostly like a celebration. A respite from from contemporary politics rather than an unwelcome reminder of it, if pop probably isn’t going to save the world, it can sure have a great time trying.