Elle King photo courtesy of RCA Records
First of all, thank you to the Pageant Theatre for the excellent accessibility to their venue. I got helped through the crowd without thwacking someone on the leg with my cane, the elevators were convenient and the seats were not tucked away in a corner.
We got to our seats just in time to see the opening singer, Fancy Hagood, walk to the side of the stage, kiss his fella, and start out his first song. I think the collective “awwwwwwwwww” from the audience seemed to relax him visibly. St. Louis—you made me proud that night. Hagood said he was “too queer for Nashville, too Nashville for LA.” Well, St. Louis loves you. Just as you are.
Fancy can sing, and he’s funny. His lyrics are sweet, salty, and he did a cover of “Unpretty” by TLC that had both my husband and I teary-eyed. (And also I was doing the dance from the video. A little. Ok, all of it, but in my defense, by the time Fancy got to the end it was a 1988 sleepover and it was sing into the hairbrush time. The entire venue was singing, too.)
Elle King walked onto the stage barefoot in a jumpsuit, toasted the crowd, did a shot, and started wailing on a banjo. We were in the right place that night.
Elle King has been recording since 2012. Her first LP Love Stuff debuted in 2015 and featured the catchy-as-hell “Ex’s &Oh’s,” which scored the talented artist and actress two Grammy nominations. She has a truly powerful voice, which I could have guessed from her singles, but, you guys, listen.
She just had a baby.
What you don’t understand is that her baby is just over six months old. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get your stomach muscles to cooperate enough for you to reliably find your center of gravity after childbirth? LET ALONE have the abdominal strength to belt out some songs with your HANDS IN YOUR POCKETS. Elle King. Walking around all casual like it’s no big deal. It takes at least 18 months for your body to come near a semblance of the hormonal balance you had before pregnancy, and you’re just out here, singing and standing your ground and meaning it.
Speaking of meaning it, while she was singing the song “Let Go,” she brushed her hands down her arms and flicked her hands away. This is a magic spell. Honest to god, she was doing old root magic that’s used to get negative energy OFF of you. That’s Elle King music for you. Magic.
It was clear that she enjoys what she does so much. She dances with the microphone, with the crowd, with her band. She performs her songs, she doesn’t sing them.
Her lyrics and statements throughout the night, when regarded out of context perhaps give us a picture of who she is becoming, and how much we will enjoy her becoming.
I can only be myself
I ain’t nobody’s baby I’m an outlaw
I ain’t askin’ nobody for nothing (fantastic cover of “A Country Man Can Survive” by Hank Williams Jr.)
Well, we’re listening now, Ms. King. I wonder what you’ll have for us next? | Melissa Cynova