Published Nov 10, 2013The palpable energy and anticipation swirling around the venue as eager fans awaited Charli XCX was unmistakably akin to a stadium-sized audience, but on a much smaller scale. A swing of a side door entrance revealed the British pop singer-songwriter and a group of girls screamed at the glimpse of their idol. And as soon as the music kicked in and Charli XCX, born Charlotte Aitchison, burst out the door and jogged up to the stage, she was greeted by even more screams and a barrage of camera phones ready to capture the moment.
Other artists and bands might reject such a scene, but this is Aitchison's comfort zone. Charli XCX is an internet pop star, a musician who's indebted to those who tweet and use Tumblr; this is mere blog post and Instagram material for them to keep their feeds fresh.
At the age of 21, Aitchison is both aware enough of the current pop landscape and knowledgeable enough of the past pop influences she borrows from — the moody '80s and bubblegum pop '90s — and paired with the years of experience in the industry (she was signed to a label at 14), it's no wonder that the singer is so poised and composed. Age is barely a factor worth judging by nowadays and Charli XCX is just one of many exceptional examples.
Live, her material has been perfected through performing and emphasizes live instrumentation over the drowned-out electronics that bubble to the surface of the songs on her debut, True Romance. "Nuclear Seasons" thrived off of pounding drums whereas "You (Ha Ha Ha)" relied more on the perfectly sampled Gold Panda track, "You," ticking away behind Aitchison's spitfire melodies.
Aitchison even pulled out Icona Pop's "I Love It," which she co-wrote, which garnered extreme enthusiasm from fans, but not any more than her own hits. Because Charli XCX may not be dominating the Billboard charts just yet, but she has found a distinct following of hardcore fans who will scream the words to a ballad like, "Stay Away" just as much as they would a track that she wasn't at the forefront of. If Aitchison was born just a decade before, she could have very well been Britney Spears' biggest competition.