Concert Reviews

Charli XCX at Trees, 10/18/14

Charli XCX Trees, Dallas Saturday, October 18, 2014 Charli XCX's tour trucks are humming outside of Trees. The trucks are heavy duty and pack enough artillery for a pop star, or at least enough to adequately hold all of the junk LeBron James might need transported in a move from Miami to Cleveland. It's the first of many signs that Charli XCX wasn't supposed to be playing Trees in the fall of 2014.

From the moment she struts confidently across the stage with a bright hue of pink neon lights shining behind her, you get a sense that Dallas and all of the other cities on her current tour got pretty lucky to see this person perform at a moderately sized venue. She's a pop star, or at least on the cusp of being one, and she's more genuine and interesting and edgier than most. The first song she performs is the title track from her upcoming album, Sucker. The chorus: "Fuck you, sucker." Her gesture is, of course, the middle finger.

"Sucker" is a frenetic song. It's early Madonna that swaps the nymphet undertones for an aggressive punk attitude, as is the case with Charli XCX as a whole. One thing you can't help but notice about the English singer is her band, which is entirely composed of women. In an age where reporters, critics and bloggers seemingly can absolutely not stray away from asking any famous women about their views on feminism, it's great to have the question, answer and action right there on the stage. And really, the only real significance behind this gesture is that although it's almost assuredly deliberate, it really only sticks out because a band with even one woman isn't something you see as frequently as a band of dudes.

What truly matters is that the band is nearly as solid at performing as the star of the evening. Or perhaps it's that maybe they inspired some young girls in the audience. But, seeing four incredibly skilled women on stage, with one yelling "fuck you, sucker," as her bird flies in the air is such a gorgeous tableau of anti-establishment punk rock sensibility -- or at least what it can and maybe should be in 2014.

Three songs into her set, Charli XCX plays one of her most recognizable tracks, "I Love It," which she was featured on with Icona Pop and originally wrote for herself. "I Love It" was Charli XCX's first time garnering major attention at at national level. It peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, and reached number one on the U.K. charts over a year after its release in the summer of 2013. She saved her two most recognizable songs for the end of the evening, of course.

To end her set, before the inevitable encore, she performed "Fancy," which you may recognize as the song of the summer. She rapped Iggy Azelia's verses and belted out the chorus, which is what made the song so enjoyable in the first place. "Fancy" performed by Charli XCX in its entirety is at once more interesting and entertaining than seeing Iggy Azelia perform it.

After 'Fancy," Charli XCX brought a man named Andy on stage to propose to his girlfriend, Meagan. The buzz in the room rose to a fever pitch as the sold-out crowd realized just what was happening. Meagan said yes. Everyone cheered. A few people might have cried. It was an awesome moment and was a total surprise. Congrats to those two lucky lovebirds. You've got a helluva story for your kids.

That set up "Boom Clap," the lead single for Sucker, to close out the show on a suitably over-the-top note. I look around and see that Charli XCX could toss the microphone into the middle of the crowd and most in attendance could form a chorus to sing the rest of the song. She's an absolute star who sold out and rocked Trees with ease. You'd be hard pressed to find a pop star more interesting and genuine than Charli XCX.

Often, star musicians have the propensity to leave a bitter taste in your mouth that they're selling you something manufactured, that you might be getting hoodwinked. Because you are, because there's not enough talent and because their gimmicks are bland and stale. Charli XCX is a true talent. It'll be fascinating to watch her grow into a mega star and if you don't agree then, well, fuck you, sucker.

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H. Drew Blackburn

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