King Princess (born Mikaela Straus) took to the stage at her native Brooklyn’s Warsaw venue on Wednesday night (Jan. 23) with a loose familiarity. The 20-year-old performed so comfortably, intermittently taking puffs of her e-cig and talking about sexuality (someone even handed her a portable Juul charger to which she replied, “Y’all are dependable”), as if she were standing in a living room full of longtime friends — she very well may have been. She grew up here, after all. But still, it was her second-ever show in New York. And it was sold-out.
With only a five-track self-produced EP (2018’s acclaimed Make My Bed) and a recent synth-pop single, “Pussy Is God”, King Princess largely filled her hourlong set with as-of-yet unreleased material. “I have a song coming out on Friday,” she said, teasing her upcoming collaboration with Fiona Apple. “It’s about to be lit.” She also revealed that her own full-length record will arrive in the next couple of months — though didn’t drop any more breadcrumbs than that.
In between EP tracks like “Upper West Side” and breakout hit “1950” (“This next one is a big song, it started it all…and it will end it all,” she joked), the new tracks stood out for their wider-range in terms of sound. There was bluesy-rock track and a harder-hitting Seattle grunge colored set-closer, for which she asked the crowd to thrash. Elsewhere, she questioned “Is this love?” on a downtempo song that featured a vocoder.
The daughter of a sound engineer, King Princess signed to Mark Ronson’s Zelig Recordings in early 2017, becoming the first artist on his roster. His support has been strong; for months, his Twitter photo was the cover art for her EP. But she’s since proved to need little help when it comes to promotion, and in a short time has grown a large and dedicated fan base (her second headlining gig on Jan. 24 at Irving Plaza also sold out).
In all, the night played out like an epic live listening session, and an ode to King Princess’ home turf. “New York is where it’s at,” she said. “It’s sad and angry but also spirited and inspired.” With that, before exiting for her encore, she ripped into the aching “Talia.” When the crowd communally chanted the lyric “but four drinks I’m wasted,” it sparked the kind of energy that can only come from seeing an artist early on, and knowing they will be huge.