Review: English producer Mura Masa brings his album to life at WOW Hall
English electronic dance producer Alex Crossan, who creates music under the name Mura Masa, unraveled his catalogue of riveting ballads and club hits for a near sold out crowd Thursday night at WOW Hall. Mura Masa is currently in the thick of his North American tour in support of his self-titled debut album released in 2017.
Local house DJ, Bizio, opened up for the 22-year old headliner. Fielding a 45 minute set, Bizio loosened up the young crowd with trance and club mixes of “Robot Heart” by Art Department, “Resynthesis” by Max Cooper and other dance tracks. After his set, the stage crew deconstructed Bizio’s DJ table, unveiling a space of drum pads, synth keyboards, mic and a guitar that Mura Masa would stylishly play throughout his hour-long performance.
Arriving on stage to great applause, Mura Masa opened up his set alone on the keys. The ex-Punk rocker began with a rendition of his album’s opener, “Messy Love,” during which he delivered a delicate falsetto. His setlist visited many of his album’s most well-known hits, and also ventured into his older projects, including the tracks “Are U There?,” “Low,” “Lotus Eater,” and “Hell.” His transitions tastefully varied: sometimes seamless, other times abrupt and occasionally connected by droning synth or bass.
Throughout the show, Mura Masa rotated through his instrumental repertoire. He worked the keys for “Second 2 None,” delivered a staccato guitar for “Who Is It Gonna B,” then played his electronic drum kit on “Move Me.” The three instruments functioned like a playground to him as he cycled through the stage. Though likely rehearsed, Mura Masa’s free flowing and natural playstyles made it seem as though he was following any spontaneous instrumental inclination that came over him.
In past shows, Mura Masa has had a small band accompany him. This time, his only performing companion was English vocalist Fliss. She commanded the stage like a veteran show-woman, performing most of the concert’s vocals. Fliss flawlessly transitioned from delivering the pop melodies of “1 Night” to capturing the raw energy of New York rapper Desiigner on “All Around The World.” Her dancing prowess filled the vocal-less sections of the music, as did her ad-libs, fueling the energy in the audience.
Projected behind the performers, amateur photos of Mura Masa’s crew illuminated the crowd, as well as excerpts from the song’s music videos and stylish lettering. The visuals closely resembled that of his album’s Grammy-nominated aesthetic, having received a nomination for the album’s packaging earlier in the year. The atmosphere in the audience resembled a dance floor as much as it did a crowd of live music spectators, as Mura Masa’s tantalizing hits intoxicated the crowd.
Through Mura Masa’s instrumentation and Fliss’ outstanding versatility, the performance brought more depth to the tracks than what can be heard on Mura Masa’s studio versions. The music came alive Thursday night, reaching a thunderous climax during the final two songs, “Love$ick” and “Firefly.” Mura Masa maintained a reserved demeanor throughout his performance, giving brief thanks in between songs. But with Mura Masa, there isn’t much more that needs to be said; the youthful themes and energetic beats that resonated throughout his set left the humble Eugene crowd rightfully satisfied.
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