Over the course of the latter years of the 2010s, female pop star domination has almost disappeared until the recent overwhelming success of Ariana Grande’s thank u, next album which resulted in chart supremacy for months. When the Springfest line-up was released Thursday, May 2, two days before the event (a decade long tradition), the campus reacted positively. Consisting of the Boston-based Blue Light Bandits, Nigerian EDM artist Kah-lo, rap star Futuristic, and headliner Charli XCX, this year’s Springfest turned in one of its biggest crowds in years, engaging the campus in ways never done before.
While most recognized Charli XCX from her hit “Boom Clap” from the teen film “The Fault in Our Stars” and her feature in Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” which dominated the charts in 2014, XCX has transformed the avant-garde music scene after those years of pop success. Choosing to take a different route than the easily marketable London pop provocateur, XCX has released two mixtapes, the critically acclaimed Pop 2 and the bouncy Number 1 Angel, producing music of the genre deemed PC music. This transition has garnered her a cult following, specifically in the LGBTQ+ community. With her Spotify listeners heavily concentrated in the creative hubs of Los Angeles, London and New York, the Union community was curious to see how a non-mainstream pop star would succeed.
With last year’s line-up absent of any female lead, Charli XCX dominated the stage with her upbeat, repetitive dance tracks, giving the campus community earworms with every song. Dressed in a track suit with new Balenciaga shoes, the pop star stomped around the stage bringing out an immense amount of energy from the crowd. Playing crowd pleasers like “Boom Clap,” the Icona Pop collab “I Love It,” and her new hit with queer artist Troye Sivan “1999,” XCX performed her cult fan favorites “Unlock It” featuring new trans pop sensation Kim Petras and Jay Park as well as “5 in the Morning,” her lead single off her new project.
While a simple EDM artist would have stood behind the sound podium, hitting the respective buttons, boring the crowd, Charli engaged the crowd with her party persona, constantly stressing it with “My name is Charli XCX and I like to party!”
This was fitting of course considering the night prior she was present at the Christopher Kane party in New York as well as making an appearance at a drag club with Dua Lipa.
Students of course doubted the force XCX would bring to Union however, students were on each other’s shoulders, throwing phones on stage for selfies with the enigmatic star.
Kah-lo evoked a similar audience reaction, her tracks and personality resonating with the audience every minute of her performance. While Futuristic’s performance was well-received due to the modern-day popularity of rap and his forceful desire to pack the crowd in as much as possible, Charli XCX’s set proved that the female pop star allure is still present with the crowd growing rather than shrinking after Futuristic’s number.
The versatile line-up constructed for this year’s Springfest emphasized the power of music, bringing different people together under a commonality of a desire to dance and have fun. XCX’s allure did just that and more.