Melanie Martinez and the K-12 Tour Earns a Ph.D in ‘The Art of the Show’.

Melanie Martinez at The National in Richmond, VA on 10/19/2019. Photo Credit: Dave Pearson

Richmond, VA – Who goes to school on a Saturday night? Or is a more appropriate question, who wants to be schooled on a Saturday night? On October 19, 2019 at The National in Richmond, VA, a sellout crowd of over 1,500 Melanie Martinez fans gathered to witness a K-12 graduation like no other. 

The ceremony started with the perfect opening act, Lauren Ruth Ward. What to say about Lauren other than, ‘WOW!’ Some bands do covers of ‘oldies’, modifying the tune to a more modern beat. Lauren, on the other hand, did a fantastic job of melding rock rhythms from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s with an alternative music flare. Lauren was a brilliant choice to open as her style crossed many different genres, which was the right thing to do considering the array of demographic groups at this show. What was even more appealing was her willingness to show appreciation for those who came early, as she walked off the stage to shake hands and interact with the fans. She will be headlining sooner than later. 

Lauren Ruth Ward opening for Melanie Martinez at The National on 10/19/2019. Photo Credit: Dave Pearson

Opening act = A+

After a short recess, with audience members playing many games such as “Let’s call Melanie” with chants of “Melanie, Melanie, Melanie” filling The National air, Melanie was ready to take the stage. 

I was not ready for what was to come. More accurately, I did not know what to expect. Listening to Melanie’s music and watching her videos, I was ready for the notes. I did not expect her music to come to life as it did on this night.

Because this was the K-12 Tour, named after Melanie’s newest album, it would make perfect sense to kick of her show on the bus. The opening song, “Wheels on the Bus” included Melanie and several dancers taking to the stage on the bus. The song itself depicts all sorts of bad behaviors that take place on the bus while the driver watches, doing nothing. The costume, dancing, stage, and music brought the song to life. At this point it was obvious that this was going to be a lot more than a concert, it was going to be a show of phenomenal proportions.

Melanie Martinez performing ‘Wheels on the Bus’ on October 19, 2019. Photo Credit: Dave Pearson

Entrance = A+

The show continued, telling a story of the trials and tribulations of school through pastel artwork brought to life on stage. Up next, “Class Fight” and “The Principal” that paint a colorful image of bullying, jealous lovers, and people who abuse their power over kids… because they can. 


Melanie Martinez performing ‘The Principal’ October 19, 2019. Photo Credit: Dave Pearson

Show and Tell“, a song about being on display for all to see to make those in control look good, was done very well, with Melanie appearing in a heart shaped puppet theater box, complete with marionette strings. 

Show and Stage = A+


One thing that caught my eyes and ears as the show went on was the involvement of Melanie’s fans. I have seen shows with fans relating to the bands, but nothing like this. It was obvious that the soon to be graduating class connected with Melanie, her music, and her show. It was an amazing thing to watch.  

Audience = A+

Fans at the sold out Melanie Martinez K-12 performance at The National. Photo Credit: Dave Pearson 2019

Closing out the K-12 portion of the show, Melanie performed all the songs from the album in order, acting them all out in a surreal manner. Her voice was amazing and fit the music so well. She combined pop, alternative, and a little R & B, with her unique style. 

Overall performance = A+++

Why would we end the show with the last song on the album? When Melanie left the stage, it was obvious she would be back. The fans were shouting for more, several around me guessing what she would be playing. The sounds coming over the speakers gave no clue. Then it happened, much to the joy of the fans, she came back and gave us a four song encore!  

We were treated with a sing along to “Sippy Cup“, as well as one of her most intriguing pieces, “Mad Hatter” where we learn that “all the best people are crazy”… and I agree! Both songs were from her debut album, Cry Baby. The final song was “Fire Drill” which almost sounds like it should fit into K-12, but has not been released on her current albums. 

Encore = A+

And then the show was over. Time to reflect on what I had just seen and heard. I did not look into Melanie much before I went to the show because I had heard it was a great performance and I wanted to develop my own insights. In the last 20 or so hours, as I looked into all that she has done, the word that comes to mind is – Genius! The ability to put the life into words, words into emotion, emotion into music, music to story, and story to stage delivered the whole package to a loving audience – a gift that Melanie definitely holds. Sure, K-12 normally ends with a diploma. In this case, Melanie is deserving of a Ph.D in “The Show”, as this old man was totally blown away! I anxiously await what is to come. 

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Set List

Wheels On the Bus
Class Fight
The Principal
Show & Tell
Nurse’s Office
Drama Club
Strawberry Shortcake
Lunchbox Friends
Orange Juice
Teacher’s Pet
High School Sweethearts
Sippy Cup
Alphabet Boy
Mad Hatter
Fire Drill

Show Date: October 19, 2019

Want to see more of Melanie? Check out the official music video for “Class Fight”: