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Charli XCX works up a sweat — and a sleepy crowd — at U Street Music Hall

Charli XCX | Hatchet staff writer Emily Holland.
Charli XCX | Hatchet staff writer Emily Holland.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Emily Holland. 

In a punk-pop rush of heavy guitar and energetic vocals, Charli XCX took command of a sold-out performance at U Street Music Hall Saturday night.

The 21-year-old British singer who penned Icona Pop’s summer smash “I Love It” boasted a killer all-female band, following up a girl-power precedent set by opening acts LIZ and Kitten.

After opening for Paramore on the United Kingdom leg of their tour in September, Charli XCX is headlining her first major North American tour this fall.

“It’s cool to know that everyone’s there to see your show, you know, and to see everyone singing the word to every single song,” Charli XCX said in an interview with The Hatchet.

The crowd was a little dead when LIZ performed her smooth R&B tracks, prompting her to yell “Wake up, D.C.!” a few times, but the vibe didn’t stay calm for long.

Once indie punk band Kitten took the stage, the audience absorbed lead singer Chloe Chaidez’s intense energy, after the vocalist came onstage mid-hair flip and never slowed down.

By the time Charli XCX took the stage, the crowd was riotous.

“I always want to make sure that on the record and live sounds different,” Charli XCX said. “Like, it always has to sound bigger and better live so that’s why I think it’s going to be fucking killer.”

With a set list dominated by tracks from her first album, including “Stay Away” and “You (Ha Ha Ha),” Charli XCX’s show wouldn’t have been complete without her punk-rock rendition of “I Love It” that sent the crowd into a jumping, sweating frenzy.

Charli XCX knows how to interact with her fans: She sweated with them, jumped into their arms and, at one point, allowed them to literally grab her hands while she belted out the up-beat party anthem “Take My Hand.”

Giving the audience a preview of her new album due out next year, Charli XCX performed “SuperLove.” The visual nature of the record, which draws inspiration from Tokyo and Paris, prompted her to release the song as a video before  dropping it as a downloadable track.

“I feel like I really needed the visual to go along with it for people to understand my vision and where it’s going,” Charli XCX said. “I know what I want to do. I want to make like a sexy punk-pop record. It’s about femininity and sex and passion.”

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