MUNA relishes her biggest rig at the Roundhouse in London and has a blast
MUNA are no longer a cult band.
Ten years ago when MUNA were just “three queers in a college dorm”, they wrote their first song together – I Know A Place. According to singer Katie Gavin, it was written “with hopeful rage that maybe we could find a space where we could be totally free to express ourselves”.
“It was like such a miracle that people showed up and found meaning in this song,” Katie continues, taking a moment to reflect on the early days. MUNA shows. Today she stands on stage at the Roundhouse in London, and the reaction from the crowd of 1,700 is absolutely deafening. “It’s the same miracle,” she says. “He feels so much bigger now.”
MUNA have always inspired a cult. The brilliant second album “Saves The World” was a dizzying and emotional escape that sought optimism in the pits of despair and live, their art-punk styles created a cathartic space that championed self-expression. Their label RCA Records may not have gotten it, but they’ve found a new home on Phoebe Bridger‘ Saddest Factory and earlier this year released their fantastic third self-titled album.
It’s a different record from what preceded it, more synths, less indie-rock, but it’s no less powerful. Tonight’s show opens with the industrial pop banger “What I Want” (“There’s nothing wrong with what I want,” Katie sings) before a jubilant “Number One Fan” sees MUNA relish the biggest platform, roaming the space, kissing each other and generally having fun. A thunderous “Solid” and the glitchy, moody “Runners High” see them retain that art-punk flamboyance, all the strobe lights, dry ice and synchronized headbutts, while “No Idea” is simply presented as “exciting “.
Speaking to the crowd, Katie explains how the dreamy ‘Loose Garment’ is about finding grace and tenderness while going through tough times, while the epic ‘Navy Blue’ sees them more in touch with a ‘rawer’ part. of themselves. “It’s important to honor them both.” She doesn’t like to give advice, but suggests cutting off contact with anyone who makes rules about being liked.
A few songs later MUNA bring a bouncy horse on stage for “Anything But Me”, acquire cowboy hats somewhere before sending the pony out to crowdsurf. She returned safely a few minutes later. “We like a respectful and noisy crowd,” quips guitarist Josette Maskin. A cover of The killers‘ ‘Mr Brightside’ soon follows, as MUNA cut vulnerability with a vicious good time. “You can still jump with your mind,” says Josette, making escapism as accessible as possible.
Despite the larger room and the more directly positive music, MUNA have not lost this miraculous bond with their fanbase. The merchandising stand offers t-shirts that promise MUNA are the best band in the world, say the trio “made me gay” and say “life is so much fun”. New songs turn the room into a mass of restless limbs while classics like “Pink Light” and “Stayaway” shake the pillars of the room. The fanbase may be passionate, but it’s still friendly.
For most of their career, MUNA seemed destined to remain a cult band. The fearless ambition of their self-titled album, however, moved the boundaries. “Were MUNA, and we’re here for the joyful queer revolution,” Katie says before a triumphant rendition of “Silk Chiffon” brings an emotional evening at the Roundhouse to a close. Next year they will take their revolution to stadiums across North America with Taylor Swift. We really don’t know where it goes after that.