Live Review: Charli XCX
Leading her torn-fishnet-clad followers onto the dancefloor.
Charli XCX showed up at New York's Bowery Ballroom July 28 dressed like some sort of goth cheerleader, black pom-poms and all. A black sweatshirt wrapped prep-style around her waist and a piece of 50 Cent bling around her neck capped off her, let's say, eclectic look, which certainly vibed with the Bowery audience. "She's got this crowd in the palm of her hand," my friend said to me, as we waited for the 19-year old London-based singer to take the stage amongst a noticeable kinetic energy.
The opening band, Brooklyn-by-way-of-Sweden synthpoppers St. Lucia certainly got the crowd in an amicable mood. Whether it's full-on electronica (Tough Alliance), chillout fare (jj), or even singer-songwriters (Jens Lekman) Sweden's indie scene is known for its mastery of shimmering, picture-perfect pop. Coming mostly from the synthpop camp, St. Lucia appear to be yet another entry in this ongoing success story, even if their overall aesthetic (Bombast! The 80s! Saxophone solo! More bombast!) was one we've seen before. The slick, anthemic closer "September" (set to appear on the band's debut LP later this year) garnered an especially strong response from the Charli crowd, who certainly seemed to be left wanting more.
For Charli XCX, touring a foreign country with only a handful of studio tracks (she did release a mixtape, Heartbreaks and Earthquakes, last month) can't be the easiest way to break into the indie pop game. Taking a night off from her current tour (opening for Coldplay alongside acts like Marina and the Diamonds) Charli XCX's fresh-faced enthusiasm occasionally got the best of her. Prior to her requisite anthem "Nuclear Seasons", she led the audience in a schoolyard chant of "When I say Charli, you say X!" (hence the pom-pons, I suppose) to stir up anticipation. "Okay! Let's play 'Nuclear Seasons!'" she then shouted, only to realize a second later she'd done the routine a song too soon with a different track already in queue with her backing band.
Still, the singer/raver/freak out dancer/nuclear lover (per her official Facebook page) powered on, dutifully repeating the mini pep rally before the actual playing of "Seasons", which if anything, only built up more excitement. With a dose of live drumming, the singer's best single to date gained new life in the live setting and highlighted a set that also included the already-familiar singles "Stay Away" and You're the One", along with her mixtape's standout track, the Blood Diamonds-produced "Grins". There was also an appropriate yet somewhat mechanized Echo and the Bunnymen cover ("The Killing Moon") as well as several newer, less-familiar songs. With still no announcement for her debut record, it's anyone's guess where the buzzworthy starlet's saga will lead, though her Bowery performance proved she's got the enthusiasm to lead hordes of torn fishnet-clad followers onto the dancefloor.
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