It’s 8.00pm on a clear Monday night and I’m settling into my seat on the first floor of Metro Theatre in Sydney, Australia to watch MUNA. Consisting of Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson, the University of Southern California friends turned bandmates are already living up to their self-given title, “Greatest band in the world”, with their banger of an opener, “What I Want”. Naomi is on the keys, Josette on an electric guitar and Katie, with a microphone in hand, glides across the stage while proclaiming “I want to dance in the middle of a gay bar”. It’s my first time seeing the band, and this introduction is already a lot for me to take in.
MUNA is electric, magnetic, and almost hypnotizing. As the night carries on, MUNA sings hit after hit under perfectly sequenced strobe lights that radiate every shade of color – “let’s get sweatier,” Josette says with a grin before the band sings “Runner’s High”. The band had just performed at the Sydney World Pride Concert last night alongside other Queer icons with the likes of Kim Petra and G Flip, yet they’re still brimming with energy. This isn’t a total mystery though — it’s clear from their synchronized choreography, shared banter and wide smiles that the drive they have as a band comes from a genuine adoration for music, each other, and the people they play for.
As an avid concert-goer, I’ve never seen a crowd as enthusiastic and as giving as MUNA’s. Their fans know almost every one of their songs by heart, and if they don’t, you’ll find them dancing like no one’s watching – except MUNA is. The band speaks fondly of the “anxious and sensitive people” that make up their fandom, thanking their fans for being a group of “sweet people that treat each other well”. There’s a glow of pride on Katie, Josette, and Naomi’s faces, and I’m certain they feel it as much as the next person in the room — the unexplainable feeling of magic that lingers when MUNA fans congregate.
MUNA’s show is part disco part protest – the group knows how to thump and shake the ground with their hard-hitting discography, but they clearly strive to be more than just the life of the party. MUNA is unafraid of baring themselves on stage with heartfelt lyrics that not only record their personal evolution and growth but also highlight the universal plight of the marginalized communities they represent through some of its darker undertones.
Katie begins to tell the story of how “I Know a Place” came about – being one of the very first songs they wrote together as a band, the trio produced it in their college dorm room on the same day that the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015. With lyrics such as “you think being yourself, means being unworthy, and it’s hard to love, with a heart that’s hurting, but if you want to go out dancing, I know a place”, the song is an anthem characterized by hopeful rage – there is still a long way to go in eliminating the discrimination faced by the LGBTQI+ community, but in giving a beautiful promise of belonging to every fan that shows up to their shows, MUNA champions an invaluable space for the LGBTQI+ community that makes the fight less lonely.
“When we are feeling pain, we should be sweeter to ourselves and move through it with more gentleness,” Kate says softly. The band rolls into “Loose Garment”, a song about allowing your pain to grow, change its form or even morph into something else entirely.
Accompanied by pulsating beats and a swaying audience, Kate sings sweetly: “Used to wear my sadness like a choker, it had me by the throat, tonight, I feel I’m draped in it like a loose garment, I just let it flow”. These lines are easily my favorite lyrics of MUNA’s – I look at “loose garment” as a reference to the silk dress used for dancing in one of their happier tunes, “Silk Chiffon” – as someone who gets weighed down by their negative emotions, the mere suggestion that sadness could feel as temporary but expansive as joy if you allow it is comforting, to say the least.
It is unarguable that MUNA displays a great commitment to putting on an unforgettable show, and I argue their dedication to such brilliance comes from their self-awareness of the role they have within the Queer community – these Queer icons have created a haven like none other for marginalized communities to dream and hope for brighter futures. In the face of bigotry and inequity, MUNA’s determination to feel and spread joy is a revolutionary feat.
Show Date: 03.06.23 | Sydney, Australia @ Metro Theatre | MUNA Hypnotizes Sydney Australia