Review: Moonchild @ The Fillmore

Being an opener is a necessary evil of the path to stardom. At its worst, it’s 30 minutes of people politely nodding their heads, rudely staring at their phones. A couple awkward attempts at audience participation. At its best, it’s the chance to encapsulate an audience, surprising them in the best way. A chance to see an act slowly become a household name, in real time. Sometimes openers are forgettable but sometimes the stars align and you get to see Moonchild at The Fillmore Silver Spring.

The Los Angeles based neo-soul trio of Amber Navran, Max Byrk and Andris Mattson began making music in 2014. Their band name, “Moonchild,” is an ode to the star-filled sky that was above them the night they decided to cement themselves as a soulful collective. Since then, Moonchild has rapidly captured the LA music scene, grabbing fans with their dreamlike and airy compositions that simultaneously explore familiar relationship topics with deep emotional nuance. This has resulted in a wide-reaching array of co-signs, from Jazz/Soul heavyweights like Stevie Wonder and Indie.Arie, to current standards like 9th Wonder and The Internet, who invited them on as openers on their Hive Mind tour.

I like the Fillmore, it’s roomy. I’ve never been in a sold out venue and still had a “personal bubble.” The ceiling is high but the room isn’t as wide so it creates an intimate feel while maintaining at a proper sense of grandness. This is the scene that Moonchild’s lead vocalist Navran steps out into anchored only by a microphone stand and a saxophone. Beside her are bandmates Byrk and Mattson, equipped with 2 sets of keyboards. Navran, all red hair and bubbly energy spilling out of her whisper-soft voice, flashes an infectious smile that quiets the entire room.

From there, Moonchild turned the night into a spectacle of velvet ambient jams and hybrid electronic hip hop bops. The most evident aspect of their criminally short 30 minute set was how well they fit with the night’s headliner, The Internet, who is basically their funk counterpart. During their hit song “The List,” I catch sight of a middle-aged man doing the 2 step the way all my uncles do, and all their uncles have done. Everyone’s head is bobbing in a sea of seventh chords and Navran’s words of frustration and infatuation,

I hate the situation

I'm always runnin' into you

And when I don't i'm hopin' to

I hate feeling so confused, oh

Everyone is entranced and at peace, and I notice, about halfway through a captivating Jill Scott cover, something peculiar. Everyone is nodding politely; but no one is on their phone.

Not bad for an opener.

All photos by Abrielle Williams.