The last time King Princess performed in Minnesota was last January, when she kicked off her Pussy is God Tour at First Avenue. That night it was clear that Mikaela Strauss was on an upward trajectory.
Since then, she’s performed at some of the largest music festivals (Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo, to name a few) and had some wide-reaching television appearances (Saturday Night Live, Stephen Colbert). The October release of Cheap Queen solidified her appeal and popularity as an international star.
Now, just over a year later, she’s back in a larger capacity at Palace Theatre, preparing for her upcoming support of Harry Styles’ European tour.
Opening the Show
One trademark of any King Princess show is having a drag queen warm up the stage first. As the LGBTQ Madonna of our younger generation, Mikaela is an avid ally and relatable figure.
Taking the stage to an eruption of screaming, King Princess started at the piano with “Isabel’s Moment.” The stage set featured a staircase leading up to a mirror with a huge tapestry hung behind it. Her band filled with younger peers were situated on in each corner like a square. This gave King Princess an abundance of space to move, dance, and jump throughout the night.
Halfway through her second song, “Tough on Myself,” she picked up the guitar and provided a new jolt of energy. It was immediately clear that King Princess has grown since her last voyage through Minnesota. The confidence, the interaction with the crowd, and her command of the stage all examples of that development. She felt like a different artist from the 2019 visit, but with all the structure and elements that we were introduced to. That growth is a good thing and watching her in this next stage of stardom felt gratifying.
The first quarter of her set was a relentless barrage of hits. “Prophet” and “Cheap Queen” had the audience singing along. She then declared that that we “need more pussy in here” before launching into “Pussy is God,” which whipped up everyone once more.
The transition into more slower songs followed. “Ain’t Together,” “Watching My Phone,” and “Do You Wanna See Me Crying?” settled everyone into the set.
A moment of chatting with the audience lead perfectly into “Talia,” during which she jumped on and off the top of the kick drum. Her performance of “Trust Nobody” saw the destruction of a flower bouquet. This micro aggression was a subtle hint of the ending of the set.
The last half of her set included some vintage hits like “Upper West Side” and her breakout song “1950.” Both were prime examples of her ability to blend acoustic and electronic instruments. Her band seamlessly blends real drums with programmed drums, along with acoustic piano with keyboard synths. Their combination of modern pop sensibilities and pleasing lyricism of 70s balladry makes King Princess a unique and emerging songwriter.
Ending the set before the encore was “Hit the Back,” which was an energetic mix of mass clapping, dance beats, and King Princess’ hype person strutting around the stage. As a self-proclaimed anthem for bottoms everywhere, the lyrics are loaded with sultry visuals.
I need you to search my clothing
Pat me down and feel the molding
Cause underneath this table feels so good to me
And I need you to be my motor
And run me ’til I can’t go further
Cause every turn you take is just exciting me
The encore was a mesh of all the things that make us enamored by King Princess. She blended humor and activism as she walked out with boxing trunks labeled KING. It is clear that she understands the huge world of social media and cleverly plays all angles. Her fans adore her for the memes, the jokes, and the candor about sexuality. Easily connecting the online world into her music and live shows truly defines what will make up the next generation of musical stars.
Ending the evening with “Ohio,” the Led Zeppelin-ish performance projected an edgier side to King Princess. The song builds and builds with heavy guitars and swooping chords. There’s a deeper grit and growl to her vocals. The long buildup ended with her channeling King Kong and throwing down the guitar at the altar of the mirror and jumping on it, then grabbing a microphone stand and tossing it off the stage.
On first glance this aggression may seem out of place for an artist like King Princess. As a fan that has followed her career, it symbolizes and signifies that there are more dimensions to her music. Although she’s grown dramatically in the past year, there’s still untapped potential underneath. I’m curious and excited to see what the next year will bring for King Princess and what artistic endeavors are awaiting her.