Mikaela Straus, known by her stage name King Princess, performed to a crowd of cheering adolescents last Thursday night at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles. The show is one of the final destinations on her North American “Pussy is God” tour in preparation for her upcoming debut album.
King Princess is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Brooklyn who is signed to Mark Ronson’s record label, Zelig Records. The 20-year old has been musically-inclined from a young age, essentially growing up in her father’s recording studio, Mission Sound. The young artist, who identifies as queer, released her first EP, Make My Bed, less than a year after she began uploading music on SoundCloud.
The small theater created an intimate atmosphere with those at the front standing in a clump near the stage while people watched from the balcony above. The room was filled with suspense as audiences anticipated how popular King Princess will hopefully become. The modest-sized space allowed folks to connect with one another as “original fans” and contributed to the instantaneous formation of memories.
The show opened with Banoffee, an artist from Australia and was followed by Henry Metcalf, a dancer who performed a drag queen act. Banoffee rocked out solo, DJing to her own alternative pop and rock music for the first half before an interpretative dancer joined her for an indie, hip hop number. Metcalf paraded into the spotlight next, donning a white flowy shirt, jorts, and a curly brunette wig. He sashayed and thrust about the stage to renditions of popular songs, hyping up the crowd and even bringing out a pink folding fan at one point.
A lone microphone stood on the stage as the crowd waited for the artist of the night to appear. A few minutes later, warm pink lights descended as King Princess pranced out from behind the curtain dressed in a plain white tank and blue corduroy jeans. She immediately introduced her band consisting of two bass players, one drummer, and one keyboardist before launching into new, unreleased melodies as “Best Friend.” She moved freely across the whole stage, engaging the audience while allowing the music to pump through her system.
While the compact venue allowed the audience to feel close to King Princess both physically and emotionally, it proved difficult to find a comfortable spot to see the stage. However, as the crowd swayed and sang along to her strong, husky voice, this concern faded into the background. During “Upper West Side” — a rock pop beat about young King Princess’ frustration admitting she likes a girl — she whipped her head from side to side, flinging her curls around while jamming on the electric guitar as flashing white lights traversed the stage.
She followed this with her hit single “1950,” a slow pop song about unrequited love expressed through the lens of queerness. During the smooth verses, the lights fluctuated between purple, pink, and red as King Princess contracted her body on every beat to drive home the importance of recognizing those in queer history who have been silenced.
Throughout the performance, she posed for the crowd, puckering her lips and smiling as if trying to help the audience capture the perfect candid photo; she also answered questions from the crowd and hit her juul multiple times in between songs. These cheeky moments truly added to the authenticity and authenticity of the concert.
Toward the end, she sang “Pussy is God,” a sonorous anthem filled with chopped vocals and soft, crooning lyrics that celebrate sex, queer relationships, and the difficulties of romance. She belted, “You’re extra special, something else/Or maybe it’s you” while staring coyly into the crowd, folding her hands behind her back.
She then transitioned into “Talia,” a gentle ballad about heartbreak conveyed over sparse drum beats and quiet snaps. At the end of the set, she casually strutted off stage, running her fingers through her hair. As the crowd chanted for an encore, she re-appeared a few minutes later for two additional songs before permanently vanishing behind the curtain.
King Princess will be performing at Coachella this year and is currently working on a full-length album. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, she said of her new album, “The focus [shifts] a little bit away from me to more about the things that I think about, communities like drag, gender expression, and friendship — concepts that go beyond me.”
Overall, the concert maintained an upbeat yet soothing atmosphere both visually and aurally through the cozy venue, delicate lighting changes, and harmonious mix of pop, rock, and indie music. In this way, King Princess simultaneously inspired the audience to connect with one another while encouraging individual experiences of celebrating queerness, passion, and youthfulness.