Updated: Jun 21
Charli XCX and Baby Tate Slay the Stage with Crash Tour live in NYC
By Mauricio O. Rocha
Pop star, Charli XCX proved she is ready to rock and rave all night long. She graced the stage for two nights at Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom on April 22nd and 23rd; part of her CRASH world tour. The anticipation for the event was growing by the minute, as this was her first of two NYC shows. The line of people waiting to be let in for general admission wrapped around several blocks and they all seemed to follow the same dress code: black, leather, chains, chokers, studs, and spikes. Very dark, edgy, and sexy, which seems to match Charli’s new album, CRASH, which presents itself with a blood splattered- bikini cover artwork, and lyrics in the title track that state, “I’m about to crash into the water/ ‘gonna take you with me/ I’m high voltage, self-destructive/ end it all so legendary.” These lyrics suggest the pop star is headed for a sharp turn; and she is. It’s a dangerous journey that we happily and willingly accompany her on.
Charli displayed such a confidence on this tour, executing full choreography with her two male back up dancers, changing costumes four times, singing live, and sounding great for the duration of her 90-minute set. She has made all longtime fans proud since True Romance, her first studio album in released in 2013. She has come such a long way, pushing her sound from bubblegum-pop to pop-rock to experimental-techno-dance-pop to land somewhere in the middle of it all, striking a balance. As Charli pushed herself, she pushed the soundscape of pop music as well, as her influence on modern pop music is apparent in many pop songs today.
The night started when Baby Tate got the crowd ready for Charli. She got the crowd hyped up. She proclaimed self-love and manifesting mantras with her songs like “I Am” which she ended her set with singing, “I am healthy, I am wealthy, I am rich, I am that bitch. I am ‘gonna go get that bag, and I am not ‘gonna take your shit.” As the crowd chanted these lyrics and danced it was plain to see the positive impact they had on the audience as they shouted along empowered.
Baby Tate pulled out a ballet bar and did some moves and motivated the crowd. With her lyrics, Tate embraces her sexuality with raunchy raps like on “Slut Him Out”. Baby Tate did great as the tour opener. She wore a sequined two-piece set that looked like Pikachu. She got the crowd dancing, and excited, which is the real job of the tour opener.
The Crash tour opened with a little video intro of a sleek speeding black car flashed on screen before spelling Charli XCX in a large red font. Tons of smoke filled the stage and then a single spotlight shine down on her. She appeared in a cloud of smoke, vocalizing the opening of “Lightning” and when she sang “you struck me down like lightning” a flash of light came down on her, and then the crowd immediately sang along, screaming and reaching out for her, knowing every lyric of her month-old album.
Songs like “Baby” and “Beg For You” were great because it was like seeing her dance routine in the music video and Saturday Night Live performances; where she did phenomenal. Her dancers looked great flanked on each side, as well as a prop set of Greek pillars, which made her whole stage set up feel like a moving art piece, which it was. The venue was intimate, and felt like a regal ballroom with painted cherubs and clouds on the ceiling.
She changed outfits four times and while she changed, the music never stopped, it kept going like an endless dance party with intro and outros extended and mixed perfectly. First Charli wore a black leather little bodysuit with boots. The second look was a silver two piece that she changed into after “Constant Repeat.” Her other two looks were a glittery purple outfit and then the last one was a street-style ready white puffer coat with shorts and sunglasses. The vibe was the enthusiasm and production of a pop show but the music, fashion, and dancing of a rave.
Charli was not afraid to slow it down for the angel anthem, “Party 4 U” where she stood on stage alone with a mic and the crowd and loved it. The songs from her quarantine album, How I’m Feeling Now, this one along with “Visions” were nice to hear since she was unable to tour that album for the past two years. The last time Charli toured was in 2019 for her third album, Charli. The Charli and her fans were both eager for a reunion.
She sung a fiery kiss off on “Used to Know Me” with hellish visuals showing an ancient city in flames. Charli pondered the afterlife during “Twice,” where Charli sings, “Die happy thinking ‘bout my best friends. Until then I’m diving off the deep end. Don’t think twice. Don’t think twice. Don’t, don’t, think twice about it, baby,” pondering how we all tend to overanalyze in our minds, to the point of being anxiety inducing. The message of the song is to live in the moment and be in the present because we only have one life to live. It is melancholy but a poignant and true sentiment.
She ended her set with the smash single, “Good Ones” and it was a great note to end on, leaving the crowd wanting more. If the show demonstrated anything, it is the power of good pop music and how thrilling it is to see an artist at the peak of their perfection. Charli has always reveled in her emotions, but now she has perfected the presentation in which she shares her perfectly crafted pop songs that feel like her diary entries set to a beat. To compliment the set, there were trippy video installations, two incredible back up dancers, along with the costumes and which all coordinated together beautifully. Charli is in her delivering pure art and is a joy to see. If you ever get the chance to see her live, don’t think twice about it.
CHARLI XCX SETLIST:
3. “Move Me”
4. “Constant Repeat”
5. “Baby” (silver costume change)
7. “Every Rule”
8. “Party 4 U”
9. “Used to Know Me”
11. “Beg For You”
12. “Crash” (purple costume change)
13. “Boom Clap”
15. “New Shapes”
17. “Vroom Vroom” (white costume change)
19. “Unlock It”
20. “Good Ones”
BABY TATE SETLIST:
2. “Rainbow Cadillac”
3. “What’s Love”
4. “Dancing Queen”
5. “Eenie Meenie”
6. “Yasss Queen”
7. “Slut Him Out”
8. “I Am”