Charli XCX played guest-filled ‘Pop 2′ show in L.A. (review, videos)
Alt-pop figurehead Charli XCX played the first of two guest-filled shows to hype her recent mixtape Pop 2 at LA's El Rey theatre on March 15. (The other is NYC edition of the show that happens Sunday, March 18 at Elsewhere.) It was, as expected, a raucous evening, with a constant parade of guests putting Charli in the position of playing host and ringmaster for the extremely entertaining show.
Charli didn't even take the stage first -- that honor went to Tove Lo, who started with her verse from the Pop 2 banger "Out of My Head." When Charli came out for her verse, the crowd was going completely insane (which would prove to be more or less a permanent state). They launched into Tove Lo's "Disco Tits" after this, to which the crowd seemed to know every word. After Charli performed the ballad "Lucky" solo, she brought out Mykki Blanco and Dorian Electra for "Femmebot," which was perhaps my favorite performance of the night -- it's an amazing song, and it plays amazingly in a live setting, the chorus is anthemic and hard-hitting, the type of song that can't help but whip people into party mode (and they managed to fold in a performance of Mykki's "Loner" for good measure).
The whole evening was one high-energy transition after another, and the vibes in the room were extremely good. I don't know that I've ever been apologized to after mild accidental contact so many times at one show -- for a crowd that was turning up, everyone was very conscientious. It was an extremely positive atmosphere, buoyed by the fact that the night featured such a diverse cast of women, queer performers and people of color. Over the rest of the night she brought out Abra, Bibi Bourelly, Brooke Candy, Caroline Polachek, and in a final coup, Carly Rae Jepsen, who performed their duet "Backseat" as well as her own banger "Cut to the Feeling."
Through all the madness, Charli's focus was on her reccent work -- she played most of Pop 2 (though I was sad not to hear the standout "Porsche" from that mixtape), as well as a few choice recent singles and tracks from Number 1 Angel. She closed, flanked by a stage full of backing dancers, with the one-two punch of "Boys" and "Girls Night Out," both of which highlight her skills as a songwriter and performer perfectly. She has such a knack for grabbing hooks and sounds from different places and twisting them into something uniquely personal and infectious. There's a balance between sincerity and irony in those songs that's very difficult to achieve -- Charli simultaneously seems like the smartest person in the room and the one who's partying the hardest. With each album (or mixtape, or whatever), Charli seems to further distill her aesthetic, one that's wildly modern in the way that it treats the history and present of pop music with a perfectly modulated combination of love and disrespect. The LA show was a perfect encapsulation of this--it was a great party, and I can't wait to see what she cooks up next.
Again, that NYC show is coming up Sunday. Charli is also opening Taylor Swift's massive tour this year along with Camilla Cabello.