Charli XCX Futurizes Pop Music at Emo’s Austin

Charlotte Emma Aitchison is the future of the pop music landscape. Her tongue-in-cheek lyrics juxtaposed with bizarre sonic choices positions her as a vanguard of the pop genre. Historically, pop music has consisted of the same, monotonous beat explosions paired with run-of-the-mill vocals. Charli XCX, however, challenges this notion by including unpredictable beat changes and futuristic vocals that sound as if an A.I. sung them. Her Sept. 24 set at Emo’s manifested everything that exists within the Charli XCX brand.

Story by Miles Eackles

Photo courtesy of Eater Austin

Photo courtesy of Eater Austin

Emo’s is a relatively small concert venue in Riverside; it wouldn’t stick out to someone who doesn’t reside in Austin. The box shaped venue especially wouldn’t stick out to Charli, an Essex native. While the show was supposed to start at 7 p.m., fans started showing up around 4 p.m. because Charli tweeted earlier to inform concert goers that the first 50 people in line would get to meet her before the show. Arriving there around seven to a serpentine line proved to be a bad idea.

The gamut of fashion present in Emo’s parking lot was astounding. Many were dressed head to toe in mesh, diamonds and sparkles. Others didn’t want any accessories to get in the way so they had on as little as possible. There wasn’t one color absent.

Temperament wise, the inside of Emo’s was a huge contrast to outside. Cold air was blowing in all of the empty spots that would soon be filled with dancing bodies. The interior of the venue was transformed into a futuristic era that only Charli XCX’s music could occupy. Twinkling lights of different hues danced on the audience’s skin.

The ambient music playing in the background was a big surprise being that Charli’s music is so bombastic; however, it was perfectly placed given that it was going to be the only time the crowd would collectively feel calm.

Tommy Genesis, a Vancouver native , seamlessly made her way out to open the show with her hushed, trap bangers. There were several people in the crowd that knew every word, while others jumped around joyously to the thumping hi hats. The crowd seemed to be in perfect harmony until Tommy performed “100 Bad (Remix)” and Charli XCX came out to perform her verse. All of a sudden, there was an instant push as fans were seeing Charli for the first time that night. The last song that Tommy performed was the playful “Miami,” a song the majority of the crowd sang along to.

The energy left from Tommy Genesis’ performance kept the crowd pumped for Charli’s arrival. The excitement making its way around the crowd was contagious. Conversations about favorites on Charli, her newest release that came out on Sept. 13 and show predictions continued until the lights went pitch black. A collective scream was reverberated in Emo’s warehouse like venue. Smoke from the stage began to blow as the beginning of “Next Level Charli” began to play. In the blink of an eye, Charli XCX made her way onto the stage. The energy bouncing off her and the crowd was like a game of competitive ping pong.

Art by Esther Shin

Art by Esther Shin

Many of the songs that Charli XCX performed were from her most recent album, Charli; an album that Charli claims is her “most personal.” “February 2017”, which details a heartbreak, might seem sad lyrically, but the thundering synths makes it an unforgettable dance song.

The vigor from the audience continued to stay constant throughout the entire night. During “Shake It”, Charli invited several notable LGBTQ+ entertainers and artists in the Austin community to show their best moves, including pinkstar and y2k. The sense of camaraderie felt among the crowd was unparalleled.

As the show was winding down to its last breath, Charli performed “2099,” which is arguably her most futuristic song to date. The cacophony of sounds paired with a chaotic light show to end it off showed the audience who Charli as a performer really is.

The crowd was hungry for more as evident in their cult-like chants for Charli. Everyone wanted one last moment with the artist that has helped them discover who they are. The beat to “1999” started to play and Charli came back out to party. The aura of the room was ballistic as Charli made use of both sides of the stage. “I Love It”, the 2012 hit by Icona Pop that featured Charli, followed and it was as if something possessed the venue. The danceable beat weaved in and out of the crowd.

Charli made it well known that she loves to party, so she pumped up the crowd one more time on a Tuesday night. A night that many had to go to sleep early in preparation for the next business day, but was made perfect by Charli XCX’s concert.