"Tonight is going to be the best night of your life," said Charli XCX on Tuesday night (October 1), though she was nowhere to be seen. The stage inside L.A.'s The Wiltern was dark and foggy, but Charli's voice was crystal-clear. "I'm going to take you to heaven. I'm going to take you to the next level." Just like that, pop's foremost futurist materialized center stage, keeping her word by launching right into "Next Level Charli," the rallying cry that opens her eponymous third album.
And thus began the 90-minute concert/rave/light show that brought Charli to life in predictably exhilarating style (you know it's going to be a party when she utilizes three confetti cannons on the first song alone). The British pop star ran through every one of the new album's 15 tracks, even welcoming a few surprise guests along the way. Immediately after "Next Level Charli," she tore through "Unlock It" and "Click" with Kim Petras; together, they whipped around the stage like a pair of Tasmanian devils. Opening act Brooke Candy was equally as animated when she bounded onstage for "Shake It," with Charli proclaiming, "This is the party song! This is where you get fucked up!"
Then there was HAIM, who, aptly enough, appeared in a Charlie's Angels-style formation for "Warm." As the stage filled with an orange glow, Charli and the three sisters broke into a cute choreographed dance before ending the number with a group hug.
For as much rave-ready fun as there was — and there was plenty, including a rendition of "Vroom Vroom" featuring a cluster of fabulously dressed drag queens — Charli reigned it in every once in a while. She's called her new album her most personal project to date, and its quieter, more intimate moments allowed her to shine while keeping both feet on the ground. "I Don't Wanna Know," "Thoughts," "Official," "White Mercedes," and a moody revamp of "Blame It On Your Love" relieved the sweaty, glittery crowd of their dancing duties while highlighting Charli's insane vocal range. Because who says the party can't also be personal?
Besides a pride festival that she co-curated with Troye Sivan in June, Charli's last major L.A.-area show was at the Rose Bowl in 2018, where she opened for Taylor Swift on the massive Reputation Tour. She's since said that gig made her feel like an "underdog," but at her headlining tour stop on Tuesday, she was the master of her own, self-built universe; a digital, distorted, gel-coated world where she's truly the life of the party. And yet, Charli didn't get there alone, and she knows it. That's why, amid the madness, she named and praised each of the artists featured on her new album, shouted out her parents ("legends," she called them) for being in the audience, and thanked the LGBTQ community for their unwavering support.
By the time the encore rolled around, though, it was back to chaos-inducing, self-hyped business. She kicked off "I Love It" by hilariously referencing that viral clip of her trying to rile up a crowd in Germany. Then it was on to "Boys," which she dedicated to everyone on Grindr, and finally, the nostalgia binge "1999," which ended with her encouraging fans to "be uncool for a second" by hopping on somebody's shoulders.
Charli, though, remained the coolest person in the room — and she didn't let the sold-out crowd of Angels forget it. "My name is Charli XCX and you all have incredible taste in music!" she said by way of a goodbye. "Make some fucking noise for me!"