The artists behind three of the year's best albums—Charli XCX, Superchunk and Danny Brown—all gathered Tuesday night at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg, where they represented three disparate genres: electro-pop, old-school indie rock and new school hip hop. They all had one thing in common, though: They rocked, hard.
Hosted by comedian Hannibal Buress, SPIN's Year in Music Party served as a chance for music journalists of all stripes—from Rookie to Rolling Stone, Fuse to Idolator and beyond—to relax and rub elbows over free drinks. First up on the bill: Charli XCX, who broke out earlier this year with "I Love It," the track she sang on and wrote for Swedish duo Icona Pop.
The hit track is also how many casual music fans know Charli best, but she's much, much more. Her set was the night's highpoint. Dressed in a plastic skirt and over jacket, a tank top underneath and four-inch platform shoes, the 21-year-old newcomer was part goth, part '90s raver and part Piccadilly Circus punk rocker as she led an all-girl three-piece band in tracks from her new album, True Romance.
The music matched her look: shadowy, lusty electronic washes paired with throbbing grooves, all delivered with maximum ferocity with Charli whipping her hair wildly and even twerking. The crowd bounced and sang in unison for "You - Ha Ha Ha" and lost it for a cover of "I Love It." And there's more to look forward to; Charli closed with super catchy, bubbly-upbeat new single "SuperLove" from her upcoming sophomore album, expected in March of next year.
Next was Superchunk, the North Carolina indie forefathers who played a quick sets of classics and tracks from their new album, I Hate Music, and managed to convey the complete opposite. Frontman Mac McCaughan pogo'd onstage, letting loose on "Me & You & Jackie Mittoo," as the quartet locked into a bliss of power-chords and sweet backing vocals. Heads and free drinks were a rockin' in the crowd.
Danny Brown's hip hop freak nastiness closed out the night. He flashed that toothy, is-he-seriously-nuts? grin and threw peace signs and devil horns across the stage. He had a TMI moment on "I Will," spitting in detail about giving oral sex (something he's more accustomed to receiving onstage): "Quit playing with me girl and bring that over here / And climb aboard my face, put that p-ssy on my beard / I ain't tryna take you shopping, buy your ass no shoes / I'm just tryna lick that cl-t while I'm looking up at you." This is how you get tipsy Brooklynites to cheer, loudly.
It all ended with "Float On," from his new album Old, a favorite in year-end best-of lists. It's a druggy atmospheric jam featuring backing vocals from Charli, who strutted onstage in a new pink outfit (wardrobe change!). She delivered a hushed coo as Brown rapped about using codeine syrup, Adderall, Vicodin, cocaine, Xanax and more to cope with the life of a hard-hustling rap artist. That hustle is poised to soon pay off big time for both of 'em.