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Charli XCX gives local artists her stage at Austin concert

The British pop star surprised fans by bringing out local artists and drag queens to dance to her new song 'Shake It.'

AUSTIN, Texas — Fresh off the release of her third studio album "Charli," international pop star Charli XCX headed straight for the U.S. And Austin welcomed her with open arms for a sold-out show at Emo's!

She's been called “Neo-pop royalty” by Esquire, “The popstar of the future!” by Pitchfork, and “Pop’s premiere futurist” by Fader. But, after Tuesday night's show, she proved that she's still humble.

Her unique take on pop has been felt by the Austin nightlife scene in particular. And when she found out local drag queens were planning a Charli-themed drag show in honor of her, she decided to get involved.

She posted on Instagram hours before the show saying she heard there was a drag show Tuesday night after her concert, and she wanted to know where it was at so she could come herself.

RELATED: Austin's a Drag: Queens define artistry in a booming entertainment scene

"Hi to all my Austin angels," Charli said. "I have heard through the grapevine that there is a drag night tonight in Austin, and I want to know where it is because I want to go after my show. So if you know, then DM me because I want to party. Yay!"

It turns out, Barbarella on Red River Street was hosting the show featuring performances by local drag queens Ruby Knight, Noodles, Tatiana Cholula and Honey Baby.

But she also had another surprise in store for her Austin fans.

During her song "Shake It," which features artists Big Freedia, CupcakKe, Brooke Candy and Pabllo Vittar, Charli instead brought several local artists on stage, many of them drag performers.

They included:

“It was very surreal,” said Ruby Knight.

She and Vestite said that although drag is infiltrating pop culture and music, not all artists have been focusing on local drag performers.

“I think that's kind of a trending thing right now with pop music and pop stars like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, getting drag queens in on things,” said Vestite. “But they usually do the ones that are on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ or already have big followings. So it’s kind of cool to just get a chance to see a real professional-level performance, and the lights and the venue ... it was just cool to see that.”

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Yet even though they were invited onto a stage as big as Emo's – and being featured on Charli's social media accounts to the eyes of her millions of fans – they said they still felt at home.

“Ultimately, a lot of those Charli fans already go to drag shows,” said Ruby Knight.

Vestite agreed.

“Performing for the crowd tonight was like basically performing for the same crowds that we always perform for … it was like Charli was the guest,” she laughed.

Still, the nerves were still there.

“Right before I looked at [Vestite] and I was like, 'I’m petrified. Let’s have fun!'” said Ruby Knight.

Plus, they said working with Charli was easy.

“She was super sweet and very professional,” said Vestite. “She was very open too! She was like, 'I just want you guys to come in and be super hype and have fun.' So we got to do whatever we want!”

Though fellow drag queens Noodles and Tatiana Cholula didn't make it on stage with her this time, they still said Charli's music is a huge inspiration to them.

“She is pop perfection,” said Noodles. “She’s the future of pop music.”

That's why they often choose to feature her songs in their performances around town. In fact, for Tatiana Cholula, Charli was one of her biggest inspirations to get involved in drag in the first place.

“I chose a song tonight that came out during the time that I first wanted to do drag,” said Tatiana Cholula. “So it’s a song that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time, so it’s like a full-circle moment for me.”

RELATED: Austin drag legend Louisianna Purchase cast in 'Dragula' Season 3

Charli has made a name for herself in the world of pop through her entrepreneurial spirit – she's a singer, songwriter, video director, documentary maker, radio host and even a record label boss. And throughout her several years in the industry, she's earned multiple No. 1 hits – "Fancy" and "I Love It" – and a UK Top 10 with "Boom Clap."

From working with artists like Iggy Azalea, Icona Pop and Taylor Swift in the past, what makes her new album so exciting is that it's filled with new collaborations, like Lizzo, HAIM, Troye Sivan, Kim Petras and Christine and the Queens, just to name a few.

It's next level Charli!


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