Part 5 of the 2019 Deutschtown Music Festival In Review
Princess Nostalgia is a producer and singer (emphasis on producer) from Pittsburgh. She makes sleek pop music with a strong R&B influence and a philosophical lyrical bent; her songs have the ability to get both your body and your mind moving.
As the afternoon of Saturday, July 13th moved along, I decided to leave the shady confines of the Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse and Whiskey Garden (where ForeverWEST had just performed) and venture to air conditioned pastures. More specifically, Penn Brewery, located on Vinial St on the edge of the Troy Hill neighborhood.
Princess Nostalgia was slated to perform at the brewery’s restaurant area; she was one of the local artists that rapper Leek Lone had recommended during his interview with Bored In Pittsburgh, so I wanted to catch her set. I’m pretty sure some of the times had been changed after the event brochures were printed, though, so it turned out that I had an hour to kill before Princess Nostalgia took the floor. I was resigned to the terrible fate of sampling delicious craft beers, which I can assure you I did not enjoy in the slightest.
After spending 30 minutes listening to my two bar companions (mentioned in the intro to the Deutschtown Musical Festival retrospective) viciously complain about their significant others and repeatedly tout their own intelligences, I was ecstatic when Princess Nostalgia took the mic and drowned them out. She peppered her audience banter with references to philosophy and psychology, along with an offbeat sense of humor (she was selling t-shirts that featured a cartoon figure with blue pubic hair), and her set would have been interesting even if her songs hadn’t been good. Princess Nostalgia, however, happens to make some awesome music as well.
Princess Nostalgia identifies first and foremost as a producer, since she puts together her own instrumentals; singing is just something that she does to complement her compositions. Even though it’s not the dominant aspect of her musical persona, her vocals are quite strong, well-controlled and not at all flashy, the perfect delivery system for her heady, existentialist musings. The songs themselves glide along with the smooth, subdued bounce of 90’s R&B, and are often sprinkled with tight, funky guitar licks. The music isn’t all nostalgia, though (pun semi-intended), and is given a distinctly modern edge through the use of subtle synth flourishes, reminding me a bit of Minneapolis indie pop outfit Poliça. Whatever you compare it to, Princess Nostalgia’s music has certainly found its own niche.
I need to take a second here to sing the praises of the Princess’s newest single, “The Talking Drug,” sung from the perspective of a person crushing on their therapist. I think I had actually heard some of this song before she performed it at Penn Brewery, but I’ve had it stuck in my head the entire week since. A slinky, slow-burner, it’s a bit more futuristic than some other Princess Nostalgia tracks, and the decision to wait a whole 90 seconds before introducing the song’s indelible guitar riff is a stroke of genius. It caused a huge, doofy grin to spread involuntarily across my face the second I heard it (the beer probably helped with that, but I swear it was mostly the music). Any sensible music fan will have the same reaction.