SAN FRANCISCO — Pop and R&B trio Muna played at Popscene just eight months ago, opening for Local Natives, before the Los Angeles band began its ascent to the top of critics’ breakout lists. The band returned Friday night to officially debut About U, its first LP that was released that morning.
A sold-out and raucous crowd greeted vocalist-guitarists Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson, who were complemented on stage with a strong, funky rhythm section.
Judging solely on the reaction of fans, many of whom knew the lyrics to the entire album and not just the previously released singles, these songs could have been around for quite some time. New songs like “End of Desire” and “If You Love Me Now,” brought not just the original heartbreak and feelings of isolation they were written about, but also the joy of overcoming those detriments.
“It’s amazing to see people singing back to us,” frontwoman Gavin said midway through the show.
The trio opened with the one-two punch of “I Know A Place” and “Promise,” two singles that have been around a while that raised the bar before jumping into the newer material. “Winterbreak,” another single, was a mid-set highlight. While the older songs built the skeleton for the performance, the other album tracks provided the meat and showed Muna as more than a singles band.
When the band performed the new album’s penultimate track, “Everything,” Gavin pleadingly delivered the song’s key line—”Everything’s about you to me,” a song about facing a one-side, overpowering relationship—several fans in the front took the silence to raise their drink cups to her. Perhaps feeling embarrassed to bare such an intimate moment, Gavin closed her eyes. As Muna’s popularity grows, and it definitely will grow, many moments like this will be shared.
The album’s closer, the upbeat”End of Desire,” followed, after which Gavin and her bandmates took the time to chat with fans.
“You guys empowered us,” she said, thanking the crowd to be conscious of creating a safe space for everyone at Rickshaw Stop. “I found that through writing these songs , [the strength] is inside myself. That feels so good and it’s true for all you guys. It’s in you, baby.”
Muna also broke a new song , for now titled “In My Way,” which the trio wrote just a couple of months ago, before closing with fan-favorite “Loudspeaker,” sapping the last bit of energy from the crowd. Before kicking into the song, Gavin thanked the fans standing up and speaking against the Trump administration, encouraging them to “resist, stay vigilant and to fight together.”