Charli xcx Brings ‘PARTYGIRL’ To HERE at Outernet

The pop renegade kicks off a new era...

Across a string of house parties, snippet leaks and in-store signings, Charli xcx is amping up the release of her fifth studio album, ‘BRAT’. A spectacular ode to rave culture, the project celebrates the avant-pop figure’s relationship with the underground, tapping into a more vulnerable facet of her artistry amongst wobbling basslines, hyper-speed melodies and cross-genre experimentation. When release day turns round the corner, all roads lead to ‘PARTYGIRL’, an evening stacked with exclusive DJ sets from close friends and collaborators, and of course Charli herself.

Upon arrival, one could easily mistake the Outernet queue for a Fashion Week afterparty, a sea of edgy, outrageous fits which are papped along entry. Flashes of neon green, whether that be across shoe laces, hair accessories or t-shirts strike across the crowds, many of whom have created their own merch to usher in Charli’s new era. Indeed, over the last decade the artist has amassed a dedicated and diverse fanbase, with one punter flaunting their ‘BRAT’ iPhone case crafted during their lunch break, whilst another unveiled their freshly-inked tattoo, replicating the star’s handwriting. 

From beginning to end, the venue compliments Charli’s widescreen sonics, elevating each set with immersive and trippy visuals. First to step up to the decks is Beabeabadoobee guitarist Jacob Bugden, showcasing an eclectic fusion of selections to warm up the evening. Bouncing between bendy electronics, jungle breaks and R&B edits, the artist operates between lower tempos whilst flexing footwork gems such as Ghostwhip’s ‘Je t’aime’ or ‘In Da Club Before Eleven O’Clock’ by the late DJ Rashad – both quick to earn the crowd’s approval. Leading into a high-octane set from Sarah Bonito, the British Japanese vocalist bursts through with a punchy, feral energy, channelling the influence of hardstyle, donk, gabber and techno. Across, the Kero Kero Bonito frontwoman physically throws herself into the performance wearing a pair of bejewelled DJ headphones, piecing together a set that feels both nostalgic and future-facing. 

Stepping into the early hours, Charli makes a fashionably late entrance, steering the night towards a tag-team line-up: herself, A.G Cook and George Daniel. Creating a more fluid and interlinked set between all three, they deconstruct the core elements of ‘BRAT’ and re-arrange them into entirely different tracks, offering new ideas and interpretations with each remix. ‘365’ turns towards a more nightmarish and chaotic production, whereas the touching simplicity of ‘I think about it all the time’ becomes pitched-up, bassy and industrial. Dressed in a lime, corseted jumper with highlights to match, Charli hops up on stage, singing back to her wave of feverish stans over a steady flow of cocktails. Joined by Shygirl for a smokey performance of it-girl anthem ‘Nike’, the artist continues to pepper her set with club anthems like Da Hool’s ‘Meet Her at the Loverparade’ or a buoyant edit of Nicki Minaj’s ‘Chun-Li’. Venturing deeper into the night’s selections, Daniel picks out Joy Orbison’s ‘flight fm’ as a highlight moment, leaning into the sounds of UK bass, acid and viral sensations such as Mason and Princess Superstar’s ‘Perfect (Exceeder)’. Elsewhere, A.G. Cook ties together the evening with a catalogue-spanning mix, swinging between angsty breakthrough track ‘I Love It’ to a triple wheel-up of ‘Club Classics’, accelerating to a new tempo each time round.

Beyond five hours of sass, glitz and euphoria, Charli xcx highlights the importance of building community within a fanbase, one that welcomes each chapter with open arms. ‘BRAT’ undoubtedly marks a turning point for the cult icon, and ‘PARTYGIRL’ is kicking things off correctly.

Words: Ana Lamond
Photography: Henry Redcliffe

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