Muna, Lo Moon @ DC9, 2/26/17

I was hyped to see Lo Moon. A new band out of Los Angeles, they showed they took their craft seriously by hiring Grandstand who represents some big names including Broken Social Scene, Japandroids, and Sleigh Bells. My hype grew when I got to the sold out show and noticed two floor toms on stage. I can’t remember the last time I saw a band who could boast the same. It grew even further as Matt and company made their way past me to begin the set. Each of them wore an earpiece.

That’s a lot of hype to live up to. Naturally, I felt disappointed*. That is, until I sat down to write.

There are the typical trite adjectives attributed to shoegazy bands I could throw out to describe Lo Moon except that would be unjust in conveying their sound. There are similar bands that I can use for comparison except that too would be a disservice. Lo Moon is in a genre in and of itself.

This should have been obvious at the time given the earpieces or the two Macs or the three keyboards/synths or other things that escaped my observation. Instead, I basked in the aural pleasure like one lost in a good book furiously flipping the pages to the end before realizing I had read three hundred pages in one sitting. While that’s certainly merit for something to be good, greatness is determined after deliberation. To put it another way, the achievement of excellence lies in provoking thought and curiosity.

My dad dragged me to the National Gallery of Art when I was 13ish. I remember balking at a big painting roughly 30 by 20 feet covered with just ocean blue paint. I proclaimed it the stupidest piece of art at the time. The fact I bring this up many, many years later proves the opposite. That artwork continues to force thoughts from me.

Lo Moon’s music has the same effect.

Unfortunately, I am on a deadline. Defying articulation and comparison, they have painted a soundscape that leads one to discover countless crafted subtleties upon reflection, some of which are hard to pinpoint. A lot originates from Crisanta’s magic on the synth only because my standing position afforded me an unobstructed vista of her at play. Lo Moon evokes a sound that inspires a revisit or ten. And each time the audience can look forward to a better appreciation or
simply enjoy the musing that will inevitably transpire. I am thrilled to have had the pleasure to see them on their first national tour and more hyped to catch them again. In the meantime, I imagine Lo Moon will stray into my thoughts as I spin music and attend shows.

My editrix had proposed a hypothesis beforehand wondering if longevity has any effect on a band. If so, Lo Moon is off to a fantastic start!

MUNA was terrific fun. At one point Katie introduced a new song that the band wrote while on tour. She cautioned that it deviated from the band’s usual sound. Then they proceeded to sing “Happy Birthday” to Josette. Brian brought out a cake
on stage then revealed an awkward photograph of Josette taking a bite of food. She pretended to hate it all. The highlight for me was watching her play guitar however. She makes a habit of rocking her hips beautifully to the beat while strumming. It was a good night with two amazing bands.

*My disappointment was severely misplaced. The second floor tom remained mostly untouched during the 35 minute set until the closing song, “Loveless.” Yet I was perfectly content having three keyboards featured on only one song.

Austra @ Black Cat, 1/28/17

White tape in the shape of letters was placed on the sides of Ela Minus’ keyboard and synths. They read “Bright music for dark times.” Much to my dismay, I only caught the tail end of her set due to circumstances outside of my control. Her chill music and those auspicious words foreshadowed things to come.

Austra’s performance was literally bright. Various types of lights adorned the stage. The diverse colors and dance-inducing intensities complemented the electropop music in perfect tandem. Such production was a treat given most shows I frequent that incorporate lighting usually consists of hanging Christmas lights or the occasional lighted candle.

On tour in support of their new record, the band introduced the new songs to an enthusiastic crowd. In fact, a couple in the front row would shriek happily each time they recognized a song and sang along to each other while holding hands. Their gestures added a much needed sweetness to the show’s ambience. Halfway into the hour-long set, the band launched into older songs and the already boisterous crowd responded rapturously. There is certainly comfort in nostalgia. The same goes for music as well. The electric bass drum shaped like a disc sounded exactly like its acoustic counterpart and achieved its mission in driving all heads to nod. Thanks to Mitski, my favorite part was the bass line. Gutteral and steady, it compelled one to fall deeper into its tender embrace with each passing beat.

For over an hour, Austra offered a welcoming and upbeat refuge from the darkness outside. It reminded me of the saying that for there to be light, there must be darkness.