October 26th, 2016 at The Sinclair
By: Robert Kerstens and Tanvi Sehgal
On Wednesday, October 26, Alex Crossan walked onto the stage of the Sinclair as Mura Masa, the up and coming British DJ who is making waves with his richly textured beats. Taking an obvious influence from festival mainstays like Flume, the DJ’s sound is exciting and very danceable without the aggression of other EDM. With buttery samples and warped vocals bouncing over clanking percussion, it’s the perfect soundtrack to a summer porch party or a trip to H&M.
Providing a glimpse of the digital sounds to come was opening act Michl, who filled the space with his auto-tuned croon for the better part of an hour. Working two keyboards simultaneously, Michl painted a lush sonic landscape of ethereal R&B. While the songs’ content was often emotionally sensitive, the heartfelt daydream was frequently shattered by traditional bass drops that clashed with the mood, sacrificing the integrity of his music for cheap festival thrills.
After a brief intermission, distorted lullaby keys floated over a dark stage. Suddenly, the bass dropped into the beat of the Spotify chart topping hit “Love$ick” as the stage was bathed in glowing blue light to welcome Mura Masa to the stage. Filling in for the guest vocalists featured on Mura Masa’s records was his protege Bonzai, who is signed to Mura Masa’s own label Anchor Point Records. The duo combined their talents perfectly, energizing the crowd with Mura Masa’s shimmering electronic hip hop beats and Bonzai’s diverse vocal talents, singing soulfully on “Firefly” before rapping on “Nuggets”. Although Mura Masa opted to stay in the background where he kept a relatively low profile, he flawlessly worked his magic creating kinetic music the crowd danced to beat by beat. His multi-instrumental talents were on full display, juggling his computer, his keyboard and the electronic drum kit that he spent much of the night pounding away at to form the intricate percussive backbone that sets his music apart. Making up for Mura Masa’s mysterious, backstage persona, Bonzai exuded vibrancy and enthusiasm. As she sauntered across the stage, she riled up the audience with her infectious stage presence. Throughout the night, Bonzai refused to allow the energy level to dip, keeping the crowd engaged and moving. Some fans got a little too enthusiastic, a group of rowdy minors spent the entire night waving their arms at the performers and obnoxiously shouting “beantown”, giving Bonzai some serious competition for the audience’s attention.
While the show began largely as a showcase of Mura Masa’s earlier tracks from Soundtrack to a Death, playing popular tracks such as “Lotus Eater”, “Hell”, and “Cloud Claps”. These earlier tracks were kept mainly instrumental with a trap baseline, but moving past his songs from Soundtrack to a Death, Mura Masa got the crowd hyped by playing his classic hit, “Firefly”. Knowing every lyric, the crowd sang and danced along to the smoother beats of the track paired with honey-like vocals, a perfect end to a set that encompassed all of Mura Masa’s unique creative explorations.