Charli XCX enchants Montreal with her futuristic pop


British pop auteur performs a sold-out show at the Corona Theatre

Charlotte Aitchison, known by her stage name Charli XCX, has been experimenting and expanding the borders of pop music since she was 14. She played a sold out show on Oct. 15 at the Corona Theatre during her tour promoting her latest album release, Charli.

The audience was lively and happy, with people of all ages making up the crowd, though the majority were teens and young adults. The northern-England artist’s sound has evolved from witch house to punk, and now borders a dance-pop and electro-pop sound that resonates with youth everywhere.

Charli demonstrates a perfect balance of upbeat futuristic pop, filled with clicks and digital manipulations in both her lively party tracks as well as her slower songs detailing heartbreak, confusion and loneliness. The latter makes up most of her new album, which she performed almost in its entirety that night.

Teeter-tottering the avant-garde while still adhering to mainstream pop, Charli ponders how the future might be with her explosive sound. At Corona, she was just as dynamic as her music, bringing a fun yet reflective vibe to the audience. At times dynamic party pop songs, other times self-examining and introspective, creating this space for crowds alike to reflect.

The show opened with Toronto’s airy yet edgy electro-pop artist Allie X. Later, digital sounds and computer-musings emerged among a large flashing cube before Charli herself came on, wearing a jewel-studded mask covering her mouth and a large shiny coat. She began the show with “Next Level Charli,” the first track off of her new album, then moved on to the more upbeat and cerebral “Click.” Charli’s energy was contagious, going back and forth between slow songs and upbeat bangers. 


She slowed it down again with “I Don’t Want to Know,” which got people swaying. She brought back the energy with the hedonistic 2016 hit “Vroom Vroom,” and then the introspective “Gone” – both a party track to celebrate with others and solo, having everyone singing “Why do we keep when the water runs?/Why do we love if we’re so mistaken?” During “I Got It,” she yelled to the audience to “get down low!”

Although Charli is known for collaborating with many other artists in the pop world such as Lizzo, Yaeji, Sky Ferreira, Troye Sivan and CupcakKe, she still brought the energy to Corona as a solo performer. Then about midway though, Charli brought in a couple Montreal artists and drag performers, giving them each a chance to perform. According to Charli’s instagram, she is continuing to bring on local dancers and artists to accompany her on stage wherever she stops on tour.

Charli then played the Pop 2 version of “Track 10 / Blame it on Your Love,” not withholding the dreamy, squeaky production of the original version. Though most of the show included tracks from her new album, she came back for the encore with past upbeat hits, starting with the electronic and dreamy “Unlock It” and the Icona Pop cover of “I Love It.” She then finished with the bubble-gum pop “Boys,” and last year’s hit “1999.”

Like in her music, Charli brought both an upbeat party energy to the crowd as well as an introspective and contemplative one, making us delve into letting loose while also considering our own personal reasons for it. Charli loves to party, and she continues to remind us to keep it real with ourselves while doing so.


Photos by Laurence B.D.

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