Charli XCX’s set last Saturday at the Bootleg Bar was scheduled for 11:55pm, but she didn’t actually go on until almost 12:30am. An untiring crowd was packed into the small space, with an enthusiastic fanbase right at the center. Her two-man band, on synthesizer and electronic drums, were helmed only by a mic stand wrapped in roses, until the lights went out and she appeared: Gone was the sleek, cool stylishness of her video images. On stage, in a black leotard with black stockings, she was a bundle of awkward, aerobic energy. Some of that is visible in the video of “Nuclear Seasons” above.
The mystique may have been lost, but the music was certainly good. Charli’s voice is rich and has power; it also has a touch of diva sulkiness, which adds to the 80s feel of her sound. She has a tendency to paw the air while singing, which some of the crowd was mimicking indulgently. The arrangements were dynamic and danceable, and the trio definitely had energy. Her drummer was fun to watch, as he kept throwing his arms up high after striking the black drum pads.
The set ended after about six songs, and there was no encore, so that was a little disappointing. I came away with the feeling that, at 19, Charli is probably still developing her act. It’s well documented that social media can propel someone into the spotlight prematurely; Lana Del Rey’s stage presence has definitely gotten some dismal reviews. Charli XCX’s songs are much better than that video star’s, however, and I’m looking forward to her EP release.
Here’s “Stay Away”:
Videos via razorstarzz on YouTube (who, coincidentally, has Lana Del Rey videos up)