King Princess began her Glastonbury weekend early, stopping by Kentish Town for an extra show before she heads to Somerset. The New York singer-songwriter with the gender-melding stage name, born Mikaela Straus, is shaping up to be one of the festival’s, and the year’s, most arresting new voices, putting her queerness out front in her sophisticated pop compositions.
If there remained any doubt about the sexuality of a musician who recently managed to get daytime radio plays for a single titled Pussy is God, the rainbow flag and bra thrown onto the stage by adoring fans was another hint. Her band framed her on four platforms while she roamed the space casually, speaking rarely other than to say, “This is a sad one, so grab your gay companion,” before her ballad Maybe It Will Change.
As the first signing to Mark Ronson’s new record label, Zelig, it’s possible to hear hints of the bigger star’s retro but modern mix in her music. Her wonderful breakthrough song 1950 – currently on more than a quarter of a billion Spotify plays – could be a torch song from the decade of its title if it wasn’t for her multilayered, almost robotic vocals. In her encore she aired the slick disco of Pieces of Us from Ronson’s new album, on which she sings.
It was hard to guess which direction she will go in when she releases her debut album in the autumn. Cheap Queen, her latest single, was light on its feet, with breezy samples and a cutesy chorus. Ohio, in contrast, saw her and her band rocking out wildly, making volume and energy their priorities.
Having upgraded this concert to a new venue due to demand, Straus seemed completely relaxed on the larger stage. There will be plenty of even bigger ones to come.