Words: Georgina Daniels
Photos: Max Levine
Fresh off the release of her hotly anticipated debut album, South African singer-songwriter Baby Queen delivered a rousing performance to a sold-out crowd. She has already been catapulted to recognition beyond her wildest dreams, having had music featured in Netflix hit Heartstopper, debuting in the UK charts, and resonating with a generation of Internet-bred fans hungry for a live experience of epic proportions.
Waltzing onto a stage adorned with the cringy-yet-cute stuffed toys and a backdrop lifted directly from her album cover, Baby Queen and co. were greeted to roaring applause as they launched into the titular song Quarter Life Crisis, which set the precedent for a glorious energy full of catharsis and relatability.
The band followed their leader without blending into the background and sported their own unique personalities, but the spotlight never wavered away from our Dream Girl, whose vocals soared above the mix and stood out without being overbearing. The concert felt like a culmination of her efforts as a musician, which she alluded to in well-timed anecdotes about her struggle to make it as an artist, including times when she would desperately email venues across London, only to be met with rejection.
Baby Queen effortlessly captured the attention of the audience as they joyfully screamed along to songs like I Can't Get My Shit Together and basked in the spacey legato chorus lines in Everytime I Get High. Calling back to a couple songs off her almost-album The Yearbook was a subtle nod and acknowledgement to fans who have been along for the ride a little sooner than her latest venture, but it didn’t pay off as well as she hoped, as the energy dipped for the lesser-known songs. Stand out song of the first half was Buzzkill, which was a sardonic dip into spokenword-esque vocal quality with lyrics about, you guessed it! Being a buzzkill.
Slowing down the pace with A Letter To Myself At 17 involved some audience participation, where paper signs were passed out emboldened with the lyric “if only you knew that your wildest dreams would come true” – a creative attempt that fell a little flat, the meaning behind it was no less true. Baby Queen is exploring the minds of disenfranchised teens and adult children alike, as she pinpoints the exact feelings and emotions that run parallel to the experience of growing up in a world that is hyper connected but under prepared to deal with this onslaught of emotion and information. Baby Queen is fast becoming the mouthpiece for alienated young ‘uns to process this reality, and this performance served as a cathartic release for those relatable experiences. Chanting “the kids have got depression”, though simplistic and a little on the nose, summed up Baby Queen’s main message with finality; she is poised to speak for the Internet-Generation, Gen Z, Millennials, and anyone born after 2000, doing so with a flurrying trail of pink glitter hotly on her step.
The pseudo-ending to the night, Dover Beach was a fun, light-hearted dance around number that beamed significant influence from the likes of Imogen Heap and CHURCHES. And yet, Baby Queen left the crowd begging and edging for more as she ran back on stage, sporting a sparkly new outfit and two more bangers. Want Me and We Can Be Anything were the perfect tunes to round off the night, as she reminded her adoring fans that they can be anything they want to be in this life. She is certainly living proof of this mantra, having gone from struggling musician to hit maker in the space of only a few years. The night left us filled with inspiration and a full heart, as well as an excitement and anticipation for the next chapter in this newcomer’s career.
Whatever Baby Queen does next will be a hard one to follow up on. She is a generation definer that is already cemented in music history as an artist demanding to be paid attention to.