By Tyler Bunzey
February 10, 2022
If you stumbled across concert footage from Tuesday night’s show at The Underground on Instagram, it could be easily mistaken as a worship service at any contemporary Christian church across the city. L.A. pop band MUNA belted their ballads to a crowd of fans with hands raised and eyes closed. Tears poured down cheeks as the crowd swayed to their hymn-like reimaginings of ‘80s-style pop ballads like “Everything” and “Taken,” as sweat dripped onto the dance floor during their high-energy hits like their opening song, “Number One Fan.” When you add the pastel-colored stage lights, you’ve got a recipe for a typical worship service.
Turn on the sound to that concert footage, however, and the music tells a different story. Certainly, the band performed hymns, but their hymns sanctified queerness and diversity of gender expression. Lead vocalist Katie Gavin led the crowd through songs like their unreleased track “Kind of Girl,” which celebrated the sacral rites of self-exploration, and “Silk Chiffon,” their ode to queer women’s love with soft pop superstar Phoebe Bridgers. Concertgoers were enraptured as Gavin, flanked on each side by bandmates Jo Maskin and Naomi McPherson, led the audience through a cathartic celebration that included songs in the key of dance pop, soft ballads, and even straight up rock ‘n’roll.
If MUNA was holding a kind of service in The Underground, then opener Amythyst Kiah introduced the spirit to the room. The Johnson City, Tennessee songwriter joined MUNA’s tour after Allison Ponthier had to step away earlier this year. Kiah captured an audience unfamiliar with her music with just her voice and guitar. Her undeniably Southern grit percolated through her electric and acoustic records alike, and she invoked the kind of spiritual presence that MUNA would pick up later in the set. MUNA fans received Kiah graciously and gave her a roaring ovation when she joined the band on stage to sing Phoebe Bridgers’ verse for “Silk Chiffon.”
The show, in short, was a kind of spiritual enrichment for the concertgoers, a goal that was clearly on the band’s mind when Gavin proclaimed early in the performance: “Congratulations, you’ve made it to gay church.” It was clear the audience was in need of the kind of release that MUNA and Kiah provided. There were few dry eyes in the room as the band closed the show with “It’s Gonna Be Okay, Baby,” which affirmed that in the trials and errors of life, we really will be okay. It was a message that seemed necessary to those in the audience coping with the uncertainties of today’s world.
As the concert concluded, the music slowly melted away. Gavin raised both hands in the air tenderly repeating the refrain, “It’s gonna be okay, baby, it’s gonna be okay.”
Check out the remaining 2022 tour dates for MUNA.