A King Princess Concert and All it Took to Get There

“At least it’s warm in here,” I quipped to my two friends squished in front of me as I stood up from the ground. I had just finished removing the insoles from my boots and, since I had no bag, awkwardly elbowing everyone around me as I shoved them down the sides of my dress. As we had anticipated, the venue for the concert was packed. But that was just about the only thing that met our expectations last Saturday night. 

I think it’s best to start at the beginning of my adventure to New York to expose the full magnitude of everything that went wrong in a short 36-hour window. After taking the GoBus to the airport on Friday straight after an 11:10am class and seat-hopping around the terminal for four hours, my flight got delayed another three hours. I didn’t get to New York, really New Jersey, until midnight. Then, I had to make my way to my best friend’s dorm forty minutes away, waiting as one Uber cancelled and another passed me three times on the map before he managed to find the right loop to turn into. When I finally arrived at 1:00am, we did have fun for the next two hours, during which the city somehow remained buzzing with energy (it never sleeps, I’ve heard), so Friday was not too bad overall. Saturday presented more difficulties.

We woke up at 11:30am. We spent an hour walking around Lower Manhattan looking for a place to eat, completely oblivious to the fact that we had to leave for the concert at 7:00pm and still had to figure out my outfit, buy bleach and hair dye and then get back to the dorm and use them, have dinner, and get ready in what was, by the end of brunch, essentially only four hours. One Burlington Coat Factory, one closing-down Forever 21, four Halloween stores and a terrible dye job later, I was still left with nothing to wear. And I had to wear something spectacular, I’d decided, because this was going to be the absolute best concert of my life. I was going to see King Princess.

I became a fan of King Princess only a year ago, after my best friend showed me her music video for “1950” and I immediately fell in love with both her music and her. I spent most of my summer listening to her on repeat. From the magical quality of her voice to her insanely relatable lyrics, there was nothing to not like. In addition to her just being her, she was also the queer icon I didn’t know I needed. Some of her songs hit so close to home that I would tear up just from the opening note. The luxury of hearing love songs about girls, by girls, was not one I experienced often before Mikaela Straus. I wished I had found her sooner. But when she announced her tour dates and my best friend and I discovered when she’d be playing in New York, we immediately started planning the trip. It was a good point in the semester to take a break and see each other, anyway. Everything was lining up perfectly. But, of course, it had to be too good to be true. 

When the day finally came that I got to see her live, I knew it had to be perfect. I’d been planning on dyeing my hair pink anyway, so this weekend would be the perfect time. I fantasized about the makeup look I’d put together—think glitter, glitter everywhere. And the outfit? I had a few ideas here and there, but I decided to leave that one up to fate. I planned to buy something once I got to New York, maybe a quasi-angel costume to match my best friend as a devil (it was still Halloweekend, after all). No luck. I ended up in a silver dress I’d worn to my junior year Homecoming dance, and honestly, I was pretty stoked to get another wear out of it. We worked tirelessly to perfect our looks. Fishnets, false eyelashes (which wouldn’t stay glued on), it was the whole shebang. We met up with our other friend who was going to the concert with us and, I have to say, we all looked great, and we felt like it. That is, until we got out of the Uber. Straight in front of us: jeans and sweatshirts. To our left: T-shirts and converse. To our right: not a gleam of glitter in sight. And there we were, halfway between Rocky Horror Picture Show and Deb Ball attire, right in the middle of it. We slowly made our way to the back of the line and tried to walk straight and proud, but the judgment was tangible. Visible. The people moving past us to get in line made no effort to be subtle as they glanced us up and down, wondering, much like we did when we first arrived, if they were even in the right place.

“As long as we own it, nobody will even notice,” I said to my friends, trying to convince myself as much as them. Doubts circled around us. It’s 50ºF, how could we possibly think this was a good plan? Who did we think we were, anyway? Who goes to concerts dressed like this? Were we even really fans? We shuffled slowly through the line, our heads sinking lower with each step. Finally, we made it in, just as the opening act had finished. At the time we got there, there was still a fair amount of space on the floor, so we found a spot easily. But then people started to pack in behind us and, unlike at the concerts we were used to in LA, nobody was moving. The people in front of us had formed a wall that no one could get past, not even the chain of friends holding hands and drinks, not even the girls shouting for their “cousin” (who clearly did not exist) in the middle of the crowd. We were stuck. The people behind us did not like this. In fact, the girl behind me must have been so upset by her lack of proximity that she thought it was appropriate to completely disregard the fact that I existed and hit my back with every dance move. I’m pretty sure at one point she was bumping her forehead into my back. But this was expected. I’d gone to plenty of concerts in LA; I knew the drill. The one thing I had prepared for was the annoying-ness of the concert. I had not been ready for all it would take to get there, and I certainly was not ready for the show I was about to experience.

As soon as I heard her sing her first note, there were tears in my eyes already. I cry pretty easily, but I didn’t think that easily. There’s just something about hearing your idol sing out loud and being reassured that they really can sing! Their songs really do come from somewhere, from someone! I don’t even remember what song she started with. Maybe “Useless Phrases,” or it could have been “Isabel’s Moment,” but whichever song it was, she killed it. I only remember thinking that everything leading up to this moment had been worth it. 

She sang a selection of songs from her new album, as well as of course, a few crowd classics. “Pussy Is God” put on a great show, and the emotion from Mikaela and from the crowd were easy to feel during “Talia.” But I have to say, my favorite song of the night was the very last one, the encore. She ended with “Hit the Back,” her “anthem for bottoms everywhere,” but it wasn’t even really the song itself that was so entertaining. Of course, she killed every note, but the real kicker was when she quite literally kicked over the entire drum set. Much to the drummer’s (who was still playing) confusion. And while I felt a little bad for the guy, nothing could stop the smile and the laughter and yes, a few tears, from coming out as the show came to an end. The way she didn’t seem to give a single fuck, the way you could tell just from her energy how much she loved being up on that stage, the way every minute had to be a whole moment with her. Not many people could pull that off, I thought, and not nearly as well as she could. 

I like to think that Mikaela would have enjoyed the story of all the chaos it took to get to her. Honestly, I wouldn’t change a second of last weekend if I could. I got to where I needed to be and got to go on some adventures with my friends on the way there. Honestly, maybe it wasn’t even the concert that mattered, but the journ—ok, no, it was the concert that mattered. It was definitely the concert. 

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