Pink lights and distorted guitars were what London Queen Charli XCX brought to the stage in an intense Barbie-meets-The-Ramones show at Sydney Metro Theatre.
To kick off the night Australia’s own up-and-comer Tkay Maidza performed an energetic, bass-heavy set that saw the crowd turn from a nonchalant group of youths to a hyped-up ball of enthusiasm. Tkay was bouncing around stage singing and rapping with a big smile across her face the whole time sending positive vibes out to the audience. She suited as the perfect supporting act, not just because she knew how to get a crowd started, but because she and Charli are both female acts who are killing it right now. All we can do is hope that soon the two of them will collaborate because even Tkay herself said that “Charli is one of [her] all-time faves”.
After a short wait Charli’s all female, all glittery band members walked out on stage and started playing the title track of her huge album ‘Sucker’, and Charli walked out like a rockstar with sunglasses down in a zebra print two-piece. It was instantly a (pop-)punk rock gig with the whole crowd screaming the lyrics “You said you wanna bang/Well, fuck you, sucker!”. The second song was another one of her punk anthems “Breaking Up” and as a continuation of this Barbie-punk aesthetic a roadie brought out a massive inflatable guitar, just as they would a normal sized one, that she pretended to play throughout.
In the middle of her set, Charli brought down the energy a bit to play a few slower songs off her old album. Most of the crowd seemed to bit a little disappointed by this because they were there for all her hits off ‘Sucker’ and the dancing died down a bit.
But true fans like my friends and I loved this and kept singing along and dancing. I think that it’s important for artists to play what they want and if that means excluding a proportion of the audience who are only there for one or two of the songs that made it onto the charts that’s fine.
To make up for this she played the biggest crowd pleaser she could, ‘Fancy’ by Iggy Azalea. Charli said that since she’s in Australia she had to do it and to everyone’s excitement she announced “Iggy’s not here, but let’s give it a go.” What followed was the grungiest cover imaginable on which Charli rapped Iggy’s part (in my opinion better than Iggy herself) and finished it off by getting the audience to chant “pussy power”.
In the end, on top of the incredible energy and awesome songs, what made the performance so amazing was the fact that Charli has such a raw, down to earth persona. She is a powerful feminist icon because she is able to get on stage and be as drunk, raucous and sexual as she wants without giving a fuck what anyone thinks. She occupies the space between pop icon and indie queen perfectly, but there’s only one way from her current status, and that’s up. I’m happy to have seen her give such an intimate gig at the Metro because next time she comes to Australia she’s guaranteed to be filling arenas.
Written by Sam Pfister