Mura Masa, NAO, and Bonzai at the Santa Ana Observatory on May 14th, 2016
Words and pictures by Summer Dos Santos
With only a handful of U.S. dates, Mura Masa and NAO's tour sold tickets like wildfire. Luckily for us and other fans, they added an additional tour date for the LA/OC area at the Santa Ana Observatory.
Opening up the show was Irish performer Bonzai. Signed to Mura Masa's own imprint, it was clear that it was more than just her connections to the headliner that made her the obvious pick for an opener. She was able to energize the crowd, which was crucial considering the show started at 11:30 PM. Bonzai showcased her incredible sense of rhythm by dancing throughout the entirety of her set and even managed to sneak in a couple verses of the infamous club banger "Get Low", mashed up with one of her original songs.
After Bonzai's high energy set, was the much anticipated NAO. Born in England, NAO studied vocal jazz and became a teacher, before embarking on her solo music career. With her style being self-described as "wonky funk", NAO has already collaborated with some talented artists and producers including: A.K. Paul (brother of Jai Paul), George Reid of Alunageorge, and Disclosure. Her unique R&B infused electronic sound helped nominate her for the best newcomer at the MOBO awards, as well as placing third on BBC's massive annual "Sound Of..." list for 2016. Similarly to Bonzai's performance style, NAO also appeared on stage dancing, barefoot. Her voice was even more beautiful than the recordings and sent chills down my spine. She opened her set with "Inhale Exhale" and closed it with the much beloved "Bad Blood". NAO is much overdue to be discovered by the American public and deserves a lengthier tour around the states.
At last, the headliner Mura Masa was due onto the stage. Mura Masa, also known as Alex, also has garned much acclaim in the UK. Right alongside NAO, he placed 5th on BBC's "Sound of..." list for 2016. He shot to the top of the electronic charts via the release of songs like "Lotus Eater" and "Firefly" on Soundcloud.
Shortly after 1 AM, the 20 year old producer appeared on stage, inducing screams and general panic throughout the packed venue. The young producer doesn't simply press play on a computer, but instead multi-tasks by switching between an Ableton, drumming, and his computer. He brought out Bonzai once more for several songs. He rounded out the end of his set with the crowd favorites: "Love For That", "What If I Go?", and "Firefly" feat. NAO. These three artists formulated the most cohesive tour I've had the chance to attend. Before long, they'll be filling out much larger venues around the country, so make certain that you catch them the next time they come back stateside.