Concert Reviews

Charli XCX at The Hoxton

Photographs by Sean Chin.

Chali XCX is definitely party heavy. She has made her claim to fame from her Myspace days when she was simply a teenager in her bedroom wondering “what if?”. She has carried that image well into her more successful days, when she has dropped her successful album True Romance. With its cover art alone, where Chali XCX (born Charlotte Aitchison) is made to be a grungy pop goddess, she has always had a sensationalized way about her. She isn’t fake by any means: She’s just the wide eyed teen dreamer who made it. When her set was being prepared at The Hoxton, we could only imagine what kind of sultry idol would have walked out. There were large white Orange amps and a fully white drum kit with everything laced in pink lights. This was something out of a 90’s music video, and that’s when our wonders of how Charli XCX would appear started to change. Nothing here was suggestive or modern pop.

That’s when her all girl band came out and introduced her onto the stage with some upbeat music. Charli XCX hopped on with clean hair, a sparkling hair clip and a union jack mini skirt (of which all the band members had on, too). This was a throwback to Geri Halliwell’s look from when the Spice Girls were still the queens of the world. With Charli XCX’s recent climb to her britpop throne (her appearance on the soundtrack to The Fault In Our Stars certainly didn’t hurt), there wasn’t a better time for her to pull off this tribute. She was still the girl that dreamed and made it, but she was the girl even more people could identify with. She catered to the many of us that got swept away by pop idols in our youth who still cannot refuse a dose of Spice Up Your Life here and there. If anything, she reinforced this image with her cover of Icona Pop’s I Love It, which Charli XCX herself helped write and record. She’s become this British sensation she’s always dreamed about, and she’s only just entered her 20’s.

She was a commanding performer with a stern look in her eyes, but she also couldn’t refuse any appreciation. She was too happy to hide her smile whenever she was showered with gifts, and she was showered with many (who could resist a rose-clad wand or a Ziploc bag of glitter?). She would actually thank her fans during her song whenever she was showered with presents. She had a pop star image, but she wasn’t full of herself. It was this show that made the sex symbol we have come to have implanted in our heads more of a fully realized sensation. This whole rock n’ roll concept she waves around is simply her knowledge of how the music industry works. She did make it out of the cage of social media, after all: She must know what she’s doing. At The Hoxton, we saw a singer with a great sense of her demographic, what works in the world and how to take charge. We also saw a young girl nonplussed by her fame. We sadly didn’t get a chance to see her at this year’s Time Festival, where she opted out due to a scheduling conflict. We got a pretty great make up show here, and we were left wondering just how much better Time would have been had she been there and Grimes wasn’t the only bedroom-dreaming lady who had to help save the day.

Thanks to Embrace Presents for media access.

About author

Former Film Editor & Music Writer at Live in Limbo. Co-host of the Capsule Podcast. A Greek/South African film enthusiast. He has recently earned a BFA honours degree in Cinema Studies at York University. He is also heavily into music, as he can play a number of instruments and was even in a few bands. He writes about both films and music constantly. You should follow him on Twitter @Andreasbabs.