By: Mehek Seyid (@whatthemehek) –
Charli XCX, a twenty-one year-old UK-native, is one of many who have trickled through the cyber floodgates. Her story is similar to the makings of other new, internet-based artists. Over the past few years she has quietly developed a fan base, recording her first album at the age of fourteen and releasing mixtapes online. Like many, she managed to snag a feature and writing credit on a hit song, her’s being the infectious break-out single from Icona Pop, “I Love It”. Although it would have been easy for her to slip through unnoticed, she took the opportunity to release her debut album True Romance, which was well received by both critics and fans for its unapologetic pop and blending of ‘90s-inspired rhythms with ‘80s-styled synths. But what differentiates Charli XCX is her live performance, which will solidify an understanding of why she is an exceptional candidate to be a new leader in pop music for today’s generation.
Throughout her hour-long sold-out show at Wrongbar in Toronto last night, she packed in many of her dance-pop anthems from True Romance, as she arrived on stage dressed in a white bomber jacket and glittery cat-eye sunglasses. She kicked off the night with “What I Like”, which featured a heavy-octane, electro introduction that immediately found the audience jumping and pushing forward. She kept the momentum going with “Set Me Free” and “Nuclear Seasons”, the latter of which was extremely reminiscent of Gwen Stefani’s style on her solo albums.
Like Stefani, Charli XCX knows how to command her audience, which was a fairly young and female dense group. If she was not engaging with her all-female back-up band, a trio dressed in a black and white uniform, then she was dancing like one would in the ‘80s with a hairbrush and Cyndi Lauper in the background. Her arms often shot out and forward, her hands requested her fans to scream louder and reach further. They often obliged her, especially during performances of “You (Ha Ha Ha)” and her new single, “Superlove”, which saw many members of the audiences nearly falling onto the concrete stage as they clawed at one another in an attempt to get closer to their new idol, bringing the energy and heat one would expect from very enamored fans
Literally, that is. “It’s fucking hot in here,” Charli XCX commented about half-way through her set, before she went on to discuss her long hair and how she does not wash it. That did not deter anyone from grabbing fistfuls of it. They literally wanted any piece of her, to the point where many asked individuals from the front to pass pieces of confetti that Charli had thrown into the audience back, just so that they could have a token from a very intimate show.
Perhaps this intense idolizing is because of how much her fans can identify with her. Charli XCX is young and sings about the kind of love, confusion, and relationships that people at her age, a sort of “self-discovery” period, tend to experience. She demonstrated this during her performance of “Black Roses”, which discussed an intense attraction and relationship between two people, had one of the largest and most excited reactions of the night.
Charli XCX has managed to develop such an intense fan base in a short time, which is not only due to her ability to meet many pop-star qualities, but also because she knows how to appeal to a generation that she grew up in. It’s a mix of nostalgia and new-wave, an idea that she illustrated as she performed “I Love It” and “I Want Candy” towards the end of her show. It’s a mix that works, and will likely propel her to stardom even faster.
Los Angeles based-Kitten was a well-matched opening act for a Charli XCX show, as lots of audience interaction filled their high-energy performance. Lead singer, Chloe, often performed in the audience, crowd surfing and even using fans’ heads to hoist herself up on to tables. Whether it was performing the ballad-like “Sugar” or the ‘80s-reminiscent “Cut It Out”, Kitten was able to initiate the kind of momentum needed for Charli XCX’s set and executed a very entertaining set.