Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Radio Milwaukee's past and future collide at Vinyl Comes Alive. Get your tickets now!

MUNA: Tiny Desk Concert

"It's very cool to see that everyone who works for NPR is gay," MUNA singer-guitarist Katie Gavin deadpanned by way of introduction at the band's Tiny Desk concert.

For a band whose latest album is currently soundtracking its second consecutive Pride Month, MUNA has found a deep kinship with queer audiences — a fact Gavin noted during the lead-in to a country reworking of 2021's irresistible "Silk Chiffon."

"We love being queer, and we find a lot of joy in it," she said. "We think, like, if the world is gonna change in the way that it needs to, it's very important for our revolution to be based on joy, and what brings us joy, and chasing after that."

"Silk Chiffon" embodies that idea, but it's also deepened by the version MUNA unveiled here: As its melody was transformed by a string-infused arrangement, it revealed a clear undercurrent of yearning only hinted at in the original.

Expanded into a septet, MUNA used the setting as an opportunity to lean into its moodier side. "Loose Garment" placed Naomi McPherson at the piano as Gavin applied subtle effects to her own plaintive voice. And "Stayaway," a highlight from 2019's Saves The World, placed such a demand on the three voices at MUNA's core — Gavin, McPherson and Josette Maskin — that they practically exploded with relief when it was over.

MUNA's appearance happened to coincide with a loosening of pandemic restrictions at the Tiny Desk — most notably the hard cap on the number of audience members who could attend. It was hard to miss the sense of liberation, and the surge of energy, in the sheer size of the crowd.

SET LIST

  1. "Loose Garment"
  2. "Stayaway"
  3. "Silk Chiffon"

MUSICIANS

  • Katie Gavin: vocals, mandolin
  • Josette Maskin: guitar, vocals
  • Naomi McPherson: guitar, piano, synth, vocals
  • Geo Botelho: bass
  • Sarab Singh: drums, percussion
  • Tia Allen: viola, violin
  • Susan D. Mandel: cello

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Bob Boilen
  • Director: Kara Frame
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Editor: Joshua Bryant
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant, Sofia Seidel
  • Audio Assistant: Kwesi Lee
  • Production Assistant: Ashley Pointer
  • Photographer: Michael Zamora
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Hazel Cills
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson is a host, writer and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist and guest host on All Songs Considered. Thompson also co-hosts the daily NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created with NPR's Linda Holmes in 2010. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)