Around mid-way through Charlotte Cardin’s first of two sold-out nights at the Commodore, the crowd of cool kids is yelling so loud that all she can do is put her hands into the shape of a heart and bring them to her chest.
She is catching her breath taking a sip of water between songs, but the audience members seemingly can’t contain themselves—they love her and they need her to know.
Hailing from Montreal, Cardin has slowly but surely been seeping into the pop-electro zeitgeist since her debut album Phoenix dropped in 2021 (and won her a literal armful of JUNO Awards). Earlier this year she dropped its follow-up, 99 Nights, which has solidified her chops both as a vocalist and a songwriter.
But back to the show. Things kick off with the haunting 99 Nights track “Looping”, the crowd instantly losing their shit as a stunning Cardin—dressed in what looks to be a faux leather getup of boxy zip-up tee and matching pants—slinks around the stage.
She says a quick excited hello and then goes straight into “Puppy”, the opening song on her new album, a decidedly groovy track about being in “a good state of mind/like a puppy in the window/I just wanna feel the wind blow.”
Cardin’s silky voice sounds amazing live, certainly holding its own amidst the synths, drums, and electric guitar (the last of which she plays herself for many of the songs). Musical in multiple ways, she also takes a turn playing the electric keyboard with one hand (whilst holding a mic in the other), and takes a reprieve at a grand piano for a series of ballads including the heart-thumping “Phoenix” and the extremely beltable “Anyone Who Loves Me”.
Before playing the gutting “Next To You”, she explains that the song is not only the most personal one on 99 Nights, but that it took her and songwriting collaborator Patrick Watson (yes, that Patrick Watson) nine months to write.
Stage lights shift between blue, red, and white, but other than that, there isn’t much going on—which is completely fine, because Cardin commands the space all on her own. She barely stops moving, instead grooving and jumping around the stage with incredible stamina that doesn’t seem to affect her voice at all. It remains strong and level and clear.
Cardin’s appeal lies at the intersection of great danceable beats and deeply relatable lyrics. A selection of favourites from the show: “I ain’t got nothing to prove/And you got everything to lose” (“Somebody First”); “It’s just sex to me” (“Sex to Me”); “I just came to dance with myself/Baby, I don’t need nobody else” (“Someone I Could Love”); “Goodbye my worthless ego/Without you I’m finally free” (“Jim Carrey”).
But it’s “Daddy’s a Psycho” from 99 Nights that might have the crowd singing along the loudest. It’s not hard to see why:
“Baby, it’s your turn every time/And honestly that’s fine/And there’s nothing to forgive/I’m just out of fucks to give.”