Review: From pandemic music-making to collaboration, Charli XCX shares it all

Review: From pandemic music-making to collaboration, Charli XCX shares it all

Charli sang along with a backtrack, and she brought energy to the otherwise empty stage, dancing along to her upbeat tunes to deliver a performance just as fun as she is.
Published: March 21, 2021
Charli XCX performing
Charli XCX singing "I Don't Care" in her pre-recorded concert with University Union.

A singer known for her lyrics, “I don’t care, I love it!” brought plenty of energy to SU and SUNY-ESF students Sunday night, proving that she knows a thing or two about the art of virtual performances.

As a part of its STEMs series, University Union brought UK pop star Charli XCX to the Syracuse virtual stage. The Cambridge, England native kicked off the event with a Q&A session with SU student Jordyn Pegues. The pair discussed everything from quarantine music-making to Charli’s collaborators and inspirations.

Charli, commonly known as Charlotte Aitchinson, released a new album titled How I’m Feelin’ Now last May and shared her insights on how the process of writing and recording during a pandemic brought unexpected challenges but was also quite beneficial to her mental health.

“Writing felt like a necessity. It was like my own version of therapy,” she said. “Right at the beginning of quarantine I know that everybody was hit with this feeling of uncertainty, I suppose, and I definitely felt that too. And for me, the way I handle that is by creating and so that was the reason why I started making the album.”

The album, which features hits like “Forever” and “Claws” served as a special moment to share with her fans as well as a piece of self-care for herself, Charli shared.

Throughout the remainder of the Q&A, Charli shared her love and support for the LGBTQ+ community and especially fans and collaborators from the community, such as Australian pop star Troye Sivan.

To close the session, Pegues asked Charli where she would like to perform when the pandemic clears up, to which she promptly responded.

“Syracuse, of course!” she said with a smile.

Charli XCX in her interview
Charli talked about her influences in music and her experience during the pandemic.

Her pre-recorded performance started with her newest song “Spinning,” a collaboration with fellow UK artist The 1975 and Filipino musician No Rome. Charli danced across the stage in a chic cropped black jacket and a pair of light pink spandex shorts, her bold fashion style reflecting her eccentric voice as a pop artist.

She stood alone on a stage, with strobe lights flashing and the letters spelling out “Charli” lit up behind her in all caps. The performance was simple, just Charli singing along with a backtrack, but she brought energy to the otherwise empty stage, dancing along to her upbeat tunes. 

Her vocals remained strong throughout the performance, especially on her biggest hit songs such as “Boys,” “I Don’t Care,” a collaboration with Icona Pop, and “Boom Clap.”

She performed six songs in total, closing with the crowd-pleaser “Boom Clap.”

Bringing liveliness to Zoom concerts is difficult for artists since their audience is not directly in front of them, there isn’t any energy or hype to build the show off of. However, Charli has her own technique for these kinds of performances.

“I’ve been lucky to do virtual shows where I’ve been able to have my staging and my production. I’ve been able to at least make the stage feel like what it would at a live show,” she said in a press conference after the show. “So, whilst it’s definitely different without the crowd there, I miss being on stage so much, and when I am on stage, crowd or no crowd, I always completely lose myself in it.”

This was apparent during her show. For someone who is known for her lyrics “I don’t care,” her care and effort into her performances is strong. In a time when it’s difficult to remember what the euphoria of live concerts feels like, Charli brings her fans as close as they can get to the real thing. 

Avatar for Sarah Connor

is a digital producer for The NewsHouse, and was the Entertainment Lead Producer in the fall of 2020. She is a graduate student in the Goldring Arts Journalism and Communication program.