Charli XCX Gives Everything at Hammerstein Ballroom
April 25, 2022
Charli XCX – Hammerstein Ballroom – April 22, 2022
Charli XCX played the Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom on Friday night. She’s the kind of pop star called for by our moment: Her lyrics are hedonistic and nihilistic. She doesn’t write many pining love songs. In fact, when she falls in love, it’s against her better judgment. Genre-agnostic, her pop is one that flits through musical idioms and moods like Tumblr posts, blurring together like a phantasmagorical collage.
So, at her Hammerstein Ballroom show on Friday, every song is a new world, a new visual on the projector, sometimes even a new outfit. The song “Baby” is cooed Kylie Minogue-ish dance pop, necessitating Fabio-like unbuttoned white shirts for her backup dancers and a Greco-Roman visual scheme to be cast over the stage. The very next is space-age and neon, looking like Casino Night Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. “Yuck,” a soft-rock confection, the next song, is psychedelic, the one after volcanic, and on and on and on.
Her music attracts people who actually dress up to go to a concert, by the way, and so I felt underdressed in my ratty camo jacket. (Next time I’ll try to turn a look, although afterward it probably helped me befriend a Phishhead from the show going on next door at MSG, who was friends with the security guard—also a Phishhead—who’d let in the art thieves at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in the ’80s.) The crowd is in heaven. The bangers bang, the bops bop and even as Charli asks New York City to give her “every fucking thing,” everyone seems more than willing, shouting every word. Her party is every party you can imagine, all at once.
After running through songs from this year’s celebrated album Crash with some throwbacks thrown in—even the throwback “1999,” about throwbacks—Charli didn’t offer an encore: She’s already given the audience every fucking thing. —Adlan Jackson | @AdlanKJ