Charli XCX

SXSW Showcase Reviews

Live Shots
Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Charli XCX

Central Presbyterian Church, Thursday, March 15

Despite the solemn, gothic mood emanating from the pew-seated crowd gathered at the Central Presbyterian Church, Charli XCX emerged like she had just finished signing autographs backstage. Decked in a fashionable tablecloth top, shredded stockings, and a hairstylist's masterpiece, the British-born Charlotte Aitchison rocked the microphone like it was a daily routine. She slinked; she writhed; she gazed passionately into the sky with absolute fearlessness. It was pure playhouse pop, parts of the audience overwhelmed by her consummate gall. It was strikingly easy to forget the woman is a scant 19 years of age with only two tracks to her name. In fact, the whole show could've been digested as a sneak preview of a wayward debut album. The new songs were unblemished by even the slightest scent of subtlety, instead opting for ravenous, magenta synths and skull-shaking percussion, with Charli XCX switching between a gloomy, full-bodied roar and a fast-rap chirp. "Nuclear Season" and "Stay Away" remain her greatest accomplishments, and at this point, their crossover seems inevitable. Sure, Pitchfork featured her next to alt-icon Fiona Apple and blog topics Purity Ring and Grimes, but make no mistake: Charli XCX is a pop star at heart.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Saturday Showcases
Saturday Showcases

March 20, 2015

Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
First night SXSW Music recommendations and hints

March 20, 2015

More Music Reviews
The Infinites
The Infinites
The Infinites (Record Review)

Rachel Rascoe, May 10, 2019

Texas Platters
Bayonne
Drastic Measures (Record Review)

Elise Barbin, May 3, 2019

More by Luke Winkie
ACL Music Fest 2015 Friday Record Reviews – Second Weekend
Future
Dirty Sprite 2 (Record Review)

Oct. 9, 2015

Live Shots
X Games: Nicki Minaj

June 12, 2015

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Charli XCX

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle