But that’s exactly what Charli XCX is at her sold out (“suckers!!!” as the marquee tauntingly reads) Webster Hall show: a pop star for the anti-pop. No longer the emerging indie darling once rapping at underground raves, Charli XCX has arrived, and she rules.
Finally, prancing onstage alongside her band in matching cheer uniforms, Charli – her impressively thick mane topped with a tiny rhinestone tiara – catapults into the titular track off her upcoming sophomore album. Middle fingers raised high in the air, causing moms and dads to squirm and eye their pre-teens suspiciously, Charli opens with “Sucker,” punctuating the riotous spirit of the track by shouting to the crowd, “Fuck you, sucker!” The introduction is a telling precursor to the remainder of the performance. Charli is the high school-crashing prom queen throwing her own fucked up punk-rock prom, complete with graffiti PUSSY POWER banners and gold metallic balloons hanging from the rafters.
She kicks, she jumps, she screams. She performs brand new tracks (“Famous,” “London Queen”) and old (“Nuclear Seasons,” “Grins”). Her hair is a wild tangle of shiny black, and it keeps getting caught in her tiara as she struts across the stage, screeching teenagers with desperately outstretched fingers reaching for her. During “Break The Rules,” hundreds of pink and silver balloons are released from the ceiling. With the venue swathed in 90’s prom memorabilia, Charli is a sort of teen dream-killing prom queen on stage, the kind that blows bubble-gum in the faces of her runner-ups before running off with the school goth. And as the moms and dads and teenage girls and 20-somethings and bloggers and fans of all assortments all shout along in unison to her encore performance of “Boom Clap,” it’s clear: this pop princess is officially a queen.
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