At High Schools all across America, Prom holds a special place in the cannon of young adulthood, a moment in teendom where cliques get cemented, friendships are tested, and cherries are popped. It’s only appropriate that Charli XCX, teen pop superstar-on-the-rise, is is bringing Prom on tour with her – but with her own twist.
For the night of her performance, Webster Hall was filled with balloons and banners, spelling out “Prom Suckers” and “Pussy Power”. It was innocent and alt, self-aware and frivolous – just like Charli herself. The crowd was 50/50 male/female, which is a testament to Charli’s broad appeal, as well as to her devoted gay male fan demographic. The only downside to Charli’s popularity was the masses of basic, top 40 listening girls were there with their bro boyfriends. For example, the girl behind me who made my friend take off her hat, then wouldn’t move literally ONE FOOT to let my boy come smoke with us. I guess even an alt-prom has a few mean girls. But despite people trying to keep me from thriving, Charli put on an epic show for her fans, buoyed a stellar opening performance from Elliphant.
Maybe it was the fact it was a full moon, or her birthday, or both, but Elliphant pulled out all the stops for her performance. She looked like the coolest hipster girl living off the Morgan stop but in a very good way. I fell slightly in love as she rap/sang over tribal trap beats, whipping her hair and jumping around. Her matching all over print outfit heightened her rockstar appeal, as she whipped her natural model good looks into a scrappy tornado of energy.
After just a short break, Charli hit the stage full force. Strobe lights and her all-girl band, dressed in cheerleader outfits with “SUCKER” in varsity fonts across the chest. Charli fit the motif in her own uniform, set apart with a sparkly tiara on top of her large fluffy hair. She was, no doubt, the prom queen.
She started with new material, but the show really got going when Charli played the mega hit she wrote for Icona Pop “I Love It”. From the opening line, people were jumping to the beat and moving the entire floor of Webster Hall along with them.
Charli went on to play a mix of old and new songs, including “You (Ha Ha Ha),” “Stay Away” and “Nuclear Seasons” as well as new hits like “Sucker” and “London Queen”. People knew the older songs much better, singing along and dancing. The show culminated with her playing the emotional ballad “Grins”. Balloons, which had been teasingly encased in netting above our heads the whole show , began to fall down all around us, as the sweeping melody seemed to keep them afloat. People began playing with the balloons, tossing them and popping them as Charli walked offstage.
We knew there must be an encore – she hadn’t played her mega hit “Boom Clap” yet. What I did not anticipate was the cannon of confetti shooting from either side of the stage. A rain of colorful pink paper fell just as the opening “boom! boom! boom!” of the song dropped, announcing the encore in a spectacular fashion. Everyone knew this one – even the basic girl behind me – and couldn’t help but belt it out and dance along.
At the end of the night, we were sweaty, static-y and covered in confetti. Many people took balloons home with them, spilling out into the street with pale pink reminders of the special night. Just like after prom, the audience was left with a rosy glow, and memories that will last a lifetime.
Or, at least until the next time Charli comes to NYC.