Friday night got off to an early start for hundreds of local Mura Masa fans. Descending the UCen stairs into the HUB (UCSB’s part-time dining hall, part-time event venue), the concert attendees surrounded the small stage set up near Wahoo’s. Others gathered at the beer garden, a designated area blocked off as a bar with a comfortable view of the show.
At only 20 years old, Alex Crossan, known by stage name Mura Masa, has released a well-received EP and four popular singles, sometimes in collaboration with fellow talented up-and-coming artists. His mixtape Soundtrack to a Death, released in 2014, includes the better-known tracks “Money,” “Lotus Eater,” and “Know Me Better.”
Though his music generally falls under the electronic genre, Mura Masa infuses a hint of hip-hop into many of the tracks, featuring samples from Tinashe and Brian McKnight. In 2015, Someday Somewhere hit the shelves, a shorter but more collaborative EP with features from Jay Prince, Denai Moore, and NAO.
Michl, the opener for the night, established a relaxed atmosphere that would continue throughout the show. As a producer whose background remains anonymous, Michl made an impression through his vast vocal range, accompanying tracks from his latest EP with live singing.
Appeased by popular radio songs as the crew set up for Mura Masa, the crowd sang and danced to the temporarily empty stage in anticipation for the main event. The HUB buzzed with excited impatience when finally, with the lights out, Mura Masa confirmed his presence with a striking introduction.
The red spotlights flashed into the crowd as “Lovesick” dropped, lighting the stage to reveal Mura Masa and a surprise guest. Bonzai, an emerging artist from Dublin, Ireland — also just 20 years old — performed Mura Masa’s versed songs for the night. The crowd went wild as she both rapped and sang over “Lovesick.” The track originally features A$AP Rocky, but Bonzai nailed it.
Mura Masa generated the crowd’s energy with his own, smiling as he battered his equipment with drumsticks. Accompanied by everyone’s clapping, “Are U There?” played next, setting the tone for the middle of the set. The show’s first half maintained an upbeat vibe between tracks with fast-paced transitions; at this point in the show Mura Masa approached each song with a mystical transition.
“Cloud Claps” and “Lotus Eater” represented Soundtrack to a Death vibes, though “Bae” and “…Girl” unfortunately didn’t make the cut. Lotus Eater was later followed by “Low,” with Bonzai reappearing to rap Jay Prince’s lyrics. She was successful at both rapping as well as hyping up the crowd for the second half of the show.
Saving the best for last, the remainder of the set consisted of hits from Somebody Somewhere along with his newest singles. Singing “Terrible Love,” Bonzai’s smooth vocals dominated the verses while Mura Masa let the beat resonate through the HUB during the chorus. With it’s extra-slow tempo, the drawn-out rests between beats captured the crowd with emotion.
“Love For That,” “What If I Go,” and “When U Need Me” proceeded to ignite the energy in preparation for the final song. Mura Masa closed out with “Firefly,” one of the four new singles and a major crowd-pleaser. Everyone belted out the lyrics in contentment as Bonzai turned the mic around. Just as the song seemed to come to a close, the volume and tempo slowing down, Mura Masa turned it back up and amplified the HUB for one last, unexpected verse.
This week, Mura Masa and Bonzai will continue their tour down south, taking the stage at Fonda Theater in Los Angeles on Monday and Tuesday followed by San Diego’s Music Box on Wednesday. The tour will then continue on the East Coast before hitting Europe.
On behalf of Mura Masa fans, many thanks are owed to the AS Program Board for putting together this successful show.