Not Beyoncé, but Charli XCX brings girl power to Phoenix
"She's the new f-----n' Gwen Stefani; she's what we've all been waiting for," declared opener Elliphant about headliner Charli XCX as the Girl Power North America Tour hit Crescent Ballroom Oct. 20.
XCX, who is partially responsible for writing two of the most iconic pop anthems of the last few years (2012's "I Love It" and 2014's "Fancy") as well as a top-10 single of her own ("Boom Clap"), descended on Phoenix with an all-girl tour, opened by FEMME and Elliphant.
Leaning against the stage door to the green room during Elliphant's set in heavy winged eyeliner and with her hair in its usual artfully tangled mess, XCX looked nothing short of a hard rock queen bee of an '80s high school dramedy, establishing herself as ruler of the venue long before she had even taken the stage.
XCX cut her teeth opening for such pop queens as Marina and the Diamonds and Katy Perry. Being no stranger to the trope of the music diva, she simultaneously lampooned and owned this stereotype as she walked on stage in a lacy silk slip, tiara and red lipstick, proceeding to strut confidently around the stage under pink lights through her hits such as "Superlove" and "You (Ha Ha Ha)." This outfitting, combined with her snarky-cool lyric delivery and her rocking female backing band, coronated XCX as the queen of pop that she's clearly destined to be.
The crowd was obviously excited by XCX's presence and performance as they danced, sang and screamed through the set, even to the point of XCX declaring Phoenix to have the "best freestyle dancers" she had ever seen. XCX's synesthesia, which causes her to see music as colors rather than processing it as simple sounds, was clear in the imaginative lighting design that transitioned to entirely different color schemes for each song accordingly.
After XCX and her band had left the stage, the stereotypical encore-screaming commenced as the crowd chanted "Char-LI" over and over again until she walked back onstage, this time equipped with black cat-eye sunglasses and her ever-sassy attitude.
For her encore, she performed her own version of her and Iggy Azalea's hit song "Fancy," which seemed to register extremely well with the crowd (because, let's face it, who doesn't know the words to that song by now?). She finished with her own hit "Boom Clap" as the crowd jumped and sang along and was clearly dismayed as she made her exit, prancing down the aisle from the stage to the green room like a model on a catwalk and reminding everyone in the crowd that no one would ever own the Crescent quite like she did.
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