Everything about Charlie Aitchison’s performance at Sydney’s Metro Theatre seemed like a conscious decision to break away from the tween-friendly image that has been thrust upon her. She swore; she admitted to being drunk; she covered a Swedish punk band; she commanded the audience to flip her the bird while she sang the chorus to set opener Sucker; and she gyrated away in a revealingly constructed zebra print skirt. Though her instantly accessible Boom Clap closed out the set, the song seemed more like a perfunctory obligation than anything else: Aitchison is quite obviously interested in a style of music that has a great deal more grit and aggression than that particular mega-hit.
Backed by an all-female band, Aitchison proved a formidable stage presence. Her dance moves were a unique combination of hip-hop crunks and disco indebted finger points and shimmys. To say that a singer commands the stage might be a cliché, but in Aitchison’s case it was resolutely true; she had the audience in the palm of her hand, and though the adoring shrieks reached a crescendo during her enthusiastic performance of I Love It, they barely let up throughout the set’s 80 minutes.
The sound was uniformly stripped back and raw, meaning that radio-friendly singles like Famous and London Queen revealed their true punk-influenced natures. The latter song in particular impressed; powered by a driving drum beat and minimal guitar work, it became a euphoric, frenetic anthem of success that rattled along with a genuine force.
An intense rendition of Fancy represented another gig highlight – though the song is one of the biggest that Aitchison has been involved with, it wasn’t necessarily expected that she was going to perform it. After all, as Aitchison herself acknowledged, the song was going to be hard without Iggy Azaela. But Aitchison took on the challenge with aplomb, proving herself a talented and versatile rapper in the process.
Throughout the set, Aitchison managed to come across as simultaneously goofy and yet totally sincere. The way she introduced Doing It as her favorite song off Sucker with a genuine sense of pride was touching; though the euphemistic implications of the track are obvious, and could prompt one to view it as shallow, there was no doubting that the number holds genuine importance for Aitchison.
And indeed, this is the way in which the gig proved to be a genuine revelation. Almost six months ago, I reviewed Sucker, and I reviewed it harshly. I can see now that I totally missed its point. I took the album too seriously, but perversely, I also simultaneously viewed it as a flippant novelty. I was wrong on both counts. Aitchison is not serious. Neither is she flippant. She exists in a place directly in-between those two extremes, proving herself to be a singer with a genuine love for her songs and her audience, but one that still knows that pop should be fun above all else. I suppose I realized this around the time Aitchison began soundlessly strumming a giant inflatable toy guitar – one that a roadie had calmly handed her as though it were the most natural thing in the world to do so. It was as good a time as any to realize the young singer’s undeniable skills.
I Love It (Icona Pop cover)
Need Ur Love
You (Ha Ha Ha)
So Over You
Body Of My Own
Allergic To Love (Snuffed by the Yakuza cover)
Break The Rules