After a false start with a major label, indie goddess Phoebe Bridgers swept up Muna for the roster of her Saddest Factory Records. The band has embraced an upward trajectory with the help of some friends (Harry Styles, Lorde, The 1975 – just to name a few) and a loyal, adoring fan base. They are currently on tour with Taylor Swift, alternating between opening for her on mega-stadium dates and playing their own headlining shows. I was lucky to catch Muna in Philly, where they played the spectacular Met opera house with support from Nova Twins.
British duo Nova Twins hit the stage with unbridled punk meets glam energy. Bassist Georgia South thrust forward with her incredible mane of flaming curls while lead vocalist and guitarist Amy Love enticed the crowd, lunging and then retreating to the beat. Their set was heavy on last year’s album Supernova, opening with “Fire & Ice”. A nod to the duo’s early days came with the hard pumping “Wave” from their 2016 self-titled debut EP. They closed with the high adrenaline “Choose Your Fighter” – never losing the stance of a band to be reckoned with.
Muna’s Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson are without a doubt a bonded power trio. Crafting songs from inter-band relationships with messy breakups to celebrating queer identity. It feels like they are unapologetically hell bent on embracing joy in a messed up world and their live performance strongly coveys that.
The three stood as a united front as lead singer Katie Gavin skillfully worked her pop star allure on the opening song of empowerment “What I Want”. Naomi stayed focused, handling keyboards and guitar fills as Jo propelled her guitar across the stage, rallying the crowd. And the crowd did rally – it’s a love affair that was visible from the humans in the pit (many of whom had been waiting on line for hours) up to the tiered balconies and back. Hand written signs asking for a kiss or a favorite song were dotted through the packed crowd.
Muna and Nova Twins at The Met Philly – May 5, 2023
“There was I time when I was told that my lyrics were too real…”, commented Katie before launching into the acoustic confessional “Kind of Girl”. The crowd then got treated to their new single, fresh from a debut at Coachella last month, “One That Got Away”.
They called for a round of kisses for band and crew members. It was a sweet touch and they seemed to be having a fantastic time bonding with everyone both on and off stage.
“I Know a Place” started the encores and the feel was celebratory for their powerful pride anthem. “Silk Chiffon” followed, a song that was originally recorded with backing vocals from their label executive, Phoebe Bridgers, and has since seen numerous live guest appearances from boygenius to SNL’s Bowen Yang.
Muna is continually pushing against the obvious. They appear as a pop band with infectious dance songs at first glance, until you listen for a bit and understand that they are trying to achieve much more.
All Photos: Deb Johnsen