Scenes From Last Night's Phenomenal Charli XCX Show at Club Dada.
At some point, it hit you.
It could have been the fur coat-clad, crowd-splitting entrance. Perhaps it was everyone going absolutely bonkers as she and her guitarist climbed the stage monitors to headbang their way through “How Can I.” Or maybe you held out a little longer and didn't make up your mind until Monday's headliner at Club Dada made her way into the crowd for an impromptu dance party at the end of “Take My Hand.”
Whenever it came, the realization couldn't have been clearer: Charli XCX is a fucking rock star.
Witnessing the London singer-songwriter on stage, commanding the attention of everyone in the room, there's no mistaking it. It isn't choreography, it isn't the tastefully minimal stage setup or lighting. It's just her. She has that thing, whatever it is, that divides the merely talented from potential superstars. And she has it in abundance.
Dada's setup can make taking the stage a bit awkward, or really cool, depending on the artist. Charli XCX used it like a boxer making a ring walk before a big fight, with the aforementioned fur coat standing in for her fighter's robe. It was decidedly not awkward.
Openers Kitten had done a decent job warming up the audience — quite literally, considering the chilly temperatures — with, among other things, a serviceable “Purple Rain” cover. So, by a little after 10, when Charli XCX kicked into “What I Like,” everyone was ready to go. Good thing, too: Keeping up with the her isn't easy.
As she mentioned several times from the stage, this was the final gig of her first U.S. headlining tour. And, as such, she seemed intent on leaving everything on the stage from the jump, whipping her hair and staying in perpetual motion all night.
“What I Like” was first of what would be many doses of Charli XCX's first full-length, April's True Romance. It was, as was the rest of the setlist, impeccably rendered. The singer's touring backing band was spot-on, adding backbone and urgency throughout the show.
There weren't any weak spots, but “Superlove” and “Nuclear Seasons” were particularly good. “Superlove” is a new song, but you couldn't tell from this performance. Charli XCX nailed the intricate, staccato chorus, making the whole thing look far too easy. “Nuclear Seasons,” on the other hand, has been around seemingly forever. It was first released as a single in 2011, but it still sounded as fresh and vibrant as ever last night.
“I Love It” was also wonderful. Technically, it's a cover, but that sells Charli XCX short. She wrote the song for Icona Pop, and the Swedish duo are still riding the wave it created. That's not to say she regrets giving the pair the song — in fact, she told us just the opposite — but one can't help but thinking that hers is the definitive version. Muscular, life-affirming and as much punk as pop, it was brilliant.
The crowd went nuts for it, too, roaring along with the whole song. It certainly answered Charli XCX's seemingly rhetorical introductory question: “Who the fuck knows this fucking song?”
The whole show — down to the Kitten-accompanied, tour-closing encore of The Strangeloves' “I Want Candy” — showcased everything that the best pop music can be. It was incredibly fun. It was interesting. It wasn't stupid. It didn't talk down to its audience.
It was simply outstanding.
You couldn't have asked for anything more.
All photos by Mikel Galicia.