The “Cheap Queen” tour marks the rise of one of 2019’s biggest breakout artists, 20-year-old LGBTQ indie pop singer King Princess. Her energized and empowered performance last Wednesday at the 9:30 Club confronted questions of identity with forthright honesty and moving musical moments.
King Princess first entered the mainstream music scene in 2018 with her debut single, “1950.” The underground song garnered the attention of Harry Styles when he tweeted out one of the lyrics. King Princess followed this massive co-sign with her second single, “Talia” and later with her extended play, “Make My Bed.”
Now, she continues to raise her star with appearances at Lollapalooza and Coachella earlier this year, a collaboration with star DJ Mark Ronson on “Pieces of Us” and the launch of her debut album, “Cheap Queen” on Oct. 25.
King Princess’ music is defined by the power and emotion present within her voice. Her vocal range and musical ability, which shines through clearly in her songs, puts her in a special class among other up-and-coming artists. Her mixture of indie pop with elements of rock and folk gives her music a distinct sound and style that has contributed to her breakout.
She emerged loud and proud on stage at the 9:30 club on Nov. 6 to an exhilarated sold-out audience. Clad in pink tights, a white top, and a black bottom piece that she affectionately called “her diaper”, she kicked off with “Isabel’s Moment” from her critically-acclaimed debut album.
She smoothly transitioned into “Tough on Myself,” whipping out her electric guitar solo while the lights illuminated her in the deep. This stage design was the perfect setup for the upcoming songs on the setlist, where she showcased the range in her voice and the spunk in her dance moves throughout, “Prophet,” “Useless Phrases” and “Cheap Queen.”
Although she commented on how small the stage was, King Princess still expertly used the entire space throughout her performance, dancing and spinning around and making serious yet playful faces with the audience. This showcase exemplifies King Princess as an artist, never letting things which may be limitations to other artists slow her showmanship.
She noted that her album was written during one of the most vulnerable years of her life, opening up the audience to her personal trials and tribulations. Through this, she was able to further connect her musical message to real world experiences and increase the authentic connection many in the audience feel to her performance.
King Princess never faltered from being her authentic LGTBQ self and engaged with the audience in a playful way with a fun question and answer section. She candidly explained to the audience that nothing was allowed to be thrown at her face, which audience members eagerly accepted as a challenge utilizing their bras as projectile. King Princess laughed this incident off as she placed the ones that had landed on stage onto her band members’ drum sets and keyboards. This moment highlighted how comfortable King Princess was on stage and the fun-loving, free spirit environment she created in the venue.
The show didn’t solely consist of King Princess’ newer material, as about halfway throughout the set, she shifted towards playing some of her greatest hits off of her first project, “Make My Bed,” inviting the audience to sing along with her. She delivered electrifying performances of “1950,” “Pussy is God,” “Talia,” and “Upper West Side,” cleverly showcasing a mix of her skills on both the piano and the electric guitar. King Princess stood perched on top of the set of pink and white stairs at the beginning of each song, unafraid to highlight her mighty, iconic self.
King Princess concluded her set with what she claimed as the lesbian anthem, especially after hearing multiple requests from the crowd. “Hit the Back” started off slow with pink and purple lighting, and transformed into an array of rainbow colors after she hit the energetic beat of the chorus. The power in the performance was echoed in the crowd and amplified the icon that King Princess was becoming.
A gleaming disco ball hung from the top of the ceiling, radiating bright silver lights throughout the venue as King Princess passionately sang this song that she found had surprisingly resonated with so many of her listeners. When the concert appeared to come to an end, the crowd roared and begged for an encore, to which King Princess answered, “One more and you lesbians better rage.” She ended the night with a mashup of “If You Think It’s Love” and “Ohio” and left the stage, beaming beneath her characteristic cheek blush.
Though it was her first headlining U.S. tour, King Princess showcased her talent in an authentic and triumphant way on what it means to be LGBTQ. She energized the audience with her understated queer pop ballads, ending the night on a celebratory note that love is love, no matter the form it takes.