Charli XCX's Boiler Room Brought Out the Party Girl in All of Us

Taking over an unmarked warehouse in Bushwick, the British artist delivered an explosive mix of fan favorites, unreleased tracks and a tribute to SOPHIE with help from A. G. Cook and George Daniel.

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Charli XCX’s Boiler Room set, “PARTYGIRL,” was destined to be a banger long before she got behind the booth. From the moment it was announced on social media, stans were predicting what songs she’d play and what surprise guests may walk through the door. Unlike a concert, where you can simply buy tickets, most Boiler Room events pick who attends via a lottery system. Just hours after breaking the news last week, Charli XCX reported that over 25,000 people had RSVPed, the most for a single event in Boiler Room history.

The set was going down at a warehouse in an industrial area of Bushwick. The neighborhood houses a good chunk of the borough’s large-capacity music venues — Elsewhere, Avant Gardner and House of Yes are all within a few blocks’ radius — though this particular venue doesn’t actually have a name. Approaching the warehouse, a couple of hundred people in line snaked around the venue and segued onto the following block. Fans wore mini-skirts, fur-covered knee-high boots, and vintage Juicy Couture as they shivered in line. Some had arrived hours early – one TikTok creator had posted noises emitting from the venue early that afternoon, where you could hear Charli running through soundcheck.

The first throngs of people began filtering through the door a little after 8 p.m., welcomed into the lofty space by pink-hued light and a mix from the NYC DJ, Doss. They cluttered around the barricade, joined lines to buy the drink of the evening – a pomegranate cosmopolitan – and bought long-sleeve tees emblazoned with the fuzzy words “PARTY GIRL.” Setting the mood for the evening, British producer and frequent Charli XCX collaborator Easyfun, who produced her latest single “Von Dutch,” followed Doss with a more complex, punchier techno set.

Around 10 p.m., security began ushering the right side of the crowd further to the left to form a pathway. A minute later, cameras snapped and the crowd screamed. Those on the left side couldn’t see the artist over the wave of people, straining their necks and shouting “Who is it?” Charli, sporting her go-to oversized sunglasses, paraded through the crowd to take over the booth.

A mix that merely stuttered out “let’s” was enough to cue the audience on the opening track. Charli reconfigured 2016’s “Vroom Vroom” on the spot, adding layers of glitchiness and electronica to the fan-favorite single.

For pop and hip-hop artists, whose solo shows see them sing/rap the entire time and talk to the crowd between songs, Boiler Room pushes them to operate under a different set of circumstances. The set must be continuous – no pausing between tracks, even when transitioning between artists – and there’s really not much singing, if any, involved. Technically it wasn’t Charli’s first Boiler Room, as the artist had produced a quarantine-era set from her home in Los Angeles in June 2020.

After just a few introductory tracks, Charli handed it over to A. G. Cook to handle mixing while she climbed onto a small platform stage to dance to Addison Rae’s “2 Die For,” joined by the TikToker-turned-pop-icon herself. Cook also played an unreleased song from his upcoming Britpop LP called “Cute Clothes,” featuring vocals from both Charli and Rae.

Shortly after, another surprise act with icy purple hair climbed onto the stage to make her musical debut. Julia Fox had been seen walking around the crowd earlier and graciously took photos with those who asked, exchanging pleasantries. Those who spotted her took a double take, unsure if the shining hair belonged to her. No one imagined she’d be performing her new music live for the first time. Described as a “fucking icon” by Charli, Fox jumped into a song entitled “Down The Drain,” named after her 2023 memoir The room cheered along to the lyrics, “I’m a bitch, I’m a girl, I’m a mother, I’m a whore.” Her stage presence was so powerful that she blew out a speaker.

Charli then introduced her fiancé, drummer and producer George Daniel of The 1975. One of the standout tracks of the evening came courtesy of Daniel’s production in the form of his remix of Caroline Polachek’s “Welcome to My Island,” featuring fast-paced vocals from Charli. Later on, Daniel played a house track sampling Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money.” Charli dropped to her knees on the platform, rising to rile the crowd as the bass dropped, her long ponytail swinging as she fist pumped. In a touching tribute to the late producer SOPHIE, Daniel remixed an unreleased song from Charli entitled “365” with SOPHIE’s hyperpop hit “Faceshopping.” One man emotionally put his hand on his heart, continuing to jump with the crowd.

“This is for all my mean girls / my bad girls,” Charli chants in the opening lines of “365.” Four or five of the tracks played throughout the evening were entirely new to fans, including the heavily teased “Von Dutch,” which drops on February 29. Charli herself joked with the crowd, a sea of floating cell phones, that she’d kill them if any of the singles were leaked before her new album – referred to by fans as XCX6 – was released.

Eclectic, glitchy and self-referential, the set was an unofficial introduction to XCX6, the inaugural party of Charli’s forthcoming “party girl” era. Splitting her time beyond the booth and jumping up and down barefoot on the platform, Charli’s live performances have never disappointed – her solo shows, for one, are always high intensity and high energy – and the Boiler Room certified that legendary status while showcasing an even rawer side to the artist.

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