Although she’s only 20, Mikaela Strauss (aka King Princess) has already earned a large following. The inaugural show of her nearly sold out Pussy Is God Tour was on display at First Avenue.
She was the first artist signed to Mark Ronson’s Zelig Records last year. “1950,” her breakout song, is a tribute to Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt and the LGBTQ community. The queer love anthem has over six million views on YouTube, in addition to finding the attention of Harry Styles and Halsey. She followed that success with a second single, “Talia,” and her EP Make My Bed in June.
Mikaela is a singer/songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, citing Perfume Genius, Nick Cave, Tina Turner, and Cher as influences. You can definitely hear them in her soulful vocals, atmospheric synth melodies, and dynamic layering.
Banoffee opened the show. The tall, Melbourne-born singer harmonically combined misty, dreamy vocals and danceable beats. Her set was filled with memorable hooks, energized dances, and plenty of connection to the crowd. She ended with “Ripe,” a catchy, hyperactive single that glistens with 80’s synths and features her smooth RnB voice. She’s definitely worth looking more into.
Next, we were treated to Nocturna Lee Mission, a Minneapolis based drag performer. She immediately got the crowd going, showing their love with loud applause. The two-song performance was a strut and statement to King Princess, who is quickly becoming a queer role model and influence, especially for young people. Her message was positive and inspiring: “All of you are beautiful and fucking valid, and you don’t need anyone to tell you what you are.”
King Princess took the stage to a loud, adoring crowd. Her first songs felt a bit tentative, as she readily shared how nervous she was. She gave a shout-out to First Ave, noting how iconic it is: “A ton of weird shit went on here.” It was these nerves and admiration that intensified authenticity and instantly built a relationship with the crowd.
She calmed down and found her footing during “Best Friend.” Her dark, silky vocals have the same vulnerability as Lorde’s, and were especially strong on the track. She then picked up a guitar for unreleased pop/rock gem “Waiting On This House To Burn Down.” The song showed her rough, confident side. The crunchy guitar also brought out a bit more edge in her voice and helped establish range.
Energetic “Upper West Side” was the first sing-along (“I can’t stop judging everything you do/but I can’t get enough of you). An extended version of “1950” in the middle of the set was almost drowned out by screaming fans. As the evening continued, King Princess continued to expand her assertiveness on stage with slower songs that were soaked in bluesy vocals.
By the time she got to “Pussy is God” the enamored crowd was in full karaoke mode. Soon after, she landed a memorable kick on bass player Logan Leland. Mikaela’s constant smile and goofiness throughout the show cut through the heaviness of her material, creating a perfect balance.
The night ended with a two-song encore: a softer auto-tuned piano track (“If You Think Its Love”) and the heavy “Ohio,” which intensified into a coiling ball of guitars and Led Zeppelin-type vocals. It was an ideal way to end a diverse set of 14 songs (check out the setlist below).
Witnessing the effect of Mikaela’s lyrics and raw, emotional vocals solidifies her as a role model. Whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or not, the importance of her music lands in the bottom line message of never having to apologize for who you are. It is about strength and pride in celebrating it, and that’s an important, universal message.
Spotify produced a short video with King Princess as part of their “Rise” new artist series. Her deeply personal connection to the LGBTQ community is highlighted by the piece, and it speaks volumes to how our society has treated this in the past. Check it out and pass on the message: “Love consists of looking out in the same direction.”