Live Review: KING PRINCESS @ The Forum, 03.11.18
LIVE at the Forum Theatre, Melbourne
03 / 11 / 18
Words by Rachel Iampolski / Photo by Jack Hollenberg
Following the release of her international hit ‘1950’ in February, as part of her breakout EP Make My Bed, King Princess is making some serious and fast waves in the pop-music scene, and as a queer icon. At times it is hard to believe that the Brooklyn-based artist is only 19-years-old, creating music about queer love and life in such an exciting and effortless fashion that even Harry Styles has co-signed her track ‘1950’, which was produced by none other than Mark Ronson who recruited her as his very first signee on his new record label Zelig Records.
This fast rise to fame is due in large to the fact that King Princess is a breath of fresh air (pardon the cliché) who is subverting the often heteronormative, and male-dominated, pop-rock music industry with her catchy and soulfully, unapologetically queer melodies! And fans are so ready for it! So when it was time for her first ever trip Down-Under, as part of her international tour, expectations and excitement were extremely high, and the Forum Theatre heaved with giddy fans waiting for the ‘King’ to grace the Melbourne stage. Luckily, she delivered!
King Princess strutted onto stage – with the confidence of exactly that, a king – and was greeted with the deafening yell of adoring (largely female) fans. It was the type of sound you would expect to hear when a major boyband like One Direction enter a stadium, yet somehow it was even… hornier? In fact, the entire vibe of the show was very sexually charged, and if you weren’t already gay there is a high chance you left the show questioning your sexuality. And I’m sure King Princess knows this is the effect she has, you can tell in the way she interacts with the audience in-between songs, in the cheeky glisten in her eye as she yells out for more songs to be written about ‘real lesbian’ topics (which I won’t mention here, but I will let you fill in the gaps).
Although in fairness, the crowd was already properly warmed up thanks to the cheeky and high-energy styling of drag queen Paris, who dazzled in a red-sequin gown with exposed silicone breasts. In ten-short minutes, Paris had everyone extremely hyped through song covers and sassy banter, and as audiences waved rainbow flags the love in the air began to rise! Brisbane act Clea set the tone for the main-act with her easy, feminine, indie sound. The singer is gaining lots of traction for her sweet but powerful music, with a debut album due later in the month (and worth keeping an eye out for).
And then it was on to the main event! With only six songs officially released to date, King Princesses set used a mix of some of her established hits, including ‘Sunburn’, ‘Upper West Side’ and ‘Cold’, as well as a few new tracks which the crowd received with a real eagerness! Nothing compared, however, to when she announced she was about to play ‘Talia’ (except for maybe when she took her jacket off, which had the crowd go wild … lord, one can dream of receiving that type of applause each time you take off an item of clothing), her follow-up single which details the raw and relatable experience of pining for someone you cannot, or no-longer, have! This track had the entire crowd singing in unison – “if I drink enough, I swear that I will wake up next to you” – in what was a very tender yet exhilarating moment.
These songs were broken up with a bit of banter between the artist and the audience, mainly King Princess responding to cries from the audience about how much they adore her or find her attractive, as well as jokes about how straight all her male band mates were. There were a few technical difficulties with the instruments/equipment, with King Princess joking “we cheap. I’m no big pop star… I’m just like you…trying to make some dollars”, as well as spilling her drink all over her aforementioned and since removed jacket.
These moments made the giant and extravagant-in-a-daggy-way Forum Theatre seem small and intimate; an effect which was also achieved by the simple but effective stage design, which featured a hanging garland with letters spelling out King Princess, reminiscent of what you would find in a teenagers bedroom (admit it, you probably had a garland with your name, or some slogan like ‘love’ hanging in your teenage bedroom at one point) which added to the overall angsty but wholesome nostalgia that undercuts, or compliments a lot of King Princess edgier vibe. The very simple set was animated by a really fantastic lighting design, which often saw King Princess back-lit creating drama, as well as lights which often reached out into the audiences drawing you in and creating more intimacy. (If you can’t already tell, I get way too excited about good lighting design!)
King Princess finished the main set (before an encore) with the song that arguably started it all, her break-out hit and crowd-favourite, ‘1950’ which chronicles unrequited love while playing homage to queer history and a time when queer love had to take place in secret. (How blessed is that?) As she set up for the song that she would ‘probably be playing forever’ (claimed in a slightly sarcastic, even bitter tone) the crowd went, as one would expect, wild and it felt a fitting end for what otherwise (on the only real negative note) was a relatively short set.
To a large extent this performance felt like a teaser. A teaser of what’s to come for this burgeoning talent, a new album, even bigger and more packed tour, the release of the new and highly anticipated music video for track ‘Pussy is God’, which you can watch here, that she teased the crowd with during the performance – as well as ultimately growth for the artist. After all, she is only 19 and already bloody killing the game and breaking lots of boundaries – so needless to say I am very excited to see what she comes up with next!