There is always a sense of intrigue and an element of surprise involved when going to a show by an artist you are not that familiar with. This was the case last night as I journeyed out to catch American singer/songwriter King Princess at the Powerstation, her first ever New Zealand show.
The 19-year old Mikeala Straus has had a very successful 2018 after bursting on to the scene with her hit single 1950, and debut album Make My Bed.
She has been described as a songwriter who is truly challenging the traditional terms of pop music today, high praise indeed in what is a crowded pop market, and so I was very much fascinated to see if the hype was indeed real. The main event had to wait though as first on the agenda were support acts Medulla Oblongata and Clea.
With a name like Medulla Oblongata I was expecting some obscure prog rock affair but instead was presented with a drag show, a show that was very well received by the crowd despite the age range of people in the audience being seventeen to nineteen.
After the surprising opening, Australian singer/songwriter Clea took things in a somewhat more traditional direction with her experimental alty pop doing a good job at warming up the crowd. Clea and her four-piece band appeared in very stylish boiler suits and gave off quite a Mitski-vibe in what was a very impressive set.
By this stage the crowd had swelled to near capacity and anticipation was at bursting point for the main act. Then to the familiar strains of Diana Ross’s I’m Coming Out, King Princess and her band appeared on stage to a rapturous explosion of cheering, screaming, and applause.
Wearing a blue jumpsuit, King Princess seemed very excited to be in Auckland despite being somewhat intoxicated. That didn’t matter though as she quickly showed off why she has been touted as one of the next big things in pop with some outstanding vocal chops and an incredible range.
Right from the first note, her angsty rock pop immediately conjured up comparisons with the likes of Alanis Morrisette and Gwen Stefani and was received by a crowd who were enthralled with her every move, word, and note. She oozed stage presence and remained confident throughout the entire set, bantering with the crowd at every opportunity and even taking the chance to get political congratulating all the women elected to Congress in the US midterm elections.
It was also interesting to note how much of an LGBT icon she appears to be, with the crowd made up of a lot of members of the queer community who were waving LGBT flags and seemed overwhelmed that they were in the presence of someone who clearly was an idol to many. This wasn’t lost on King Princess herself who identifies as genderqueer and at one point even said to the crowd “you look a little gay to me.”
The incredible stage lighting at Powerstation deserves a special mention on this particular night. The brilliant array and variety of light effects elevated the visual appeal of the show.
In conclusion, this was a fun, free-spirited show and highlighted to me how joyous live music can be for people and communities. Without a shadow of a doubt, everyone in the audience would have left with a smile on their face after lapping up an entertaining show from someone who is definitely on the come up in the pop world.
The Queen of pop Taylor Swift may be in town this week, but those who were at the Powerstation on Thursday night might just have witnessed the heir apparent to the hotly contested pop crown.
After going in with an open mind, I came out a convert. The pre-hype was definitely real and King Princess is definitely one to watch moving forward.