Charli XCX cuts loose at Santos Party House

Charli XCX at Santos Party House in Manhattan. (Photos © 2102, Steven P. Marsh)

British phenomenon Charli XCX is, at the ripe old age of 19, a seasoned veteran of the pop music scene. After all, she exploded on the dance scene in the UK all of four years ago, at the tender age of 15, self-releasing two EPs, Emelline/Art Bitch and !Franchesckaar! in 2008.

Charli XCX (real name Charlotte Aitchison) has supported Robyn and The Ting Tings, and just wrapped up a tour opening for Sleigh Bells. Now she’s ready to take on the U.S. Her first official U.S. release is due this spring. So she decided to check out the lay of the land with a show in Philadelphia and two in New York City before heading to Austin for the South By Southwest music conference.

Her second stop in NYC was at Santos Party House in Chinatown on Monday night, March 12. The line of fans waiting outside the 400-plus capacity club stretched up the block on Lafayette Avenue and around the corner for the absurdly early set.

She eased the pain of the wait a bit when she came outside to smoke a cigarette after her rather belated soundcheck and saw the fans queued up. She stopped and chatted with fans, and even posed for some snapshots before going off to the smoking corral. Very attentive, sweet, personable and normal,

Onstage Charli adopted a much more in-your-face persona, which suited her overall delivery.

Read on for more photos, info and a set list after the jump.

She was the opener on a Brooklyn Vegan-sponsored three-band bill, with a posted door time of 7 p.m. Charli XCX was scheduled to go on at 8:15. Sure, right. Charli XCX took the stage at 9 p.m., blasted through seven songs, and was gone in a flash by 9:30.

Charli XCX busts a move.

Charli XCX

Our first exposure to Charli was through her most recent tracks, “Stay Away” and “Nuclear Seasons,” both of which project an ennui-filled Eighties vibe. And onstage the late-Seventies and Eighties feel came through strongly. Charli does a great job channeling moves from Madonna to Susie Sioux.

Charli tones down the ennui in her live set. She’s quite a firecracker on stage, and a strong singer who doesn’t lean on effects. This is dance music, so there are electronics and effects. But they’re not used as a crutch. Charli definitely has a powerfully expressive voice. And she can dance.

Charli XCX

Her set list:

“Dancing In The Dark”
“Set Me Free”
“How Can I”
“Stay Away”
“Nuclear Seasons”
“End Of The World”
“Mess”

Charli XCX

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