Concert Review: Charly Bliss

The Brooklyn pop rockers painted Little Italy in glam and glitter.

The sunset on the evening of June 29 was a paralyzingly beautiful spectacle. A full rainbow curled across the sky to the east as the sky over the ocean ignited spanish pink and gold, beaming rays of providential light across the stratosphere. Neighbors spilled out of their homes and onto the streets to look up in total silence at the heavens.

On the same evening, the tranquil beauty of the sky above the Casbah in Little Italy was pierced by the screams of jet engines on approach at the nearby Lindbergh Field. For Charly Bliss, the Brooklyn pop rock four-piece headliner that night, this atmospheric juxtaposition was a sublime backdrop.

Touring in support of their sophomore album “Young Enough,” Charly Bliss performed songs that explore themes of awkward life experiences (like developing a crush on your therapist) and the passing of youthful innocence. The backdrop of plastic streamers, similar to ones found at pubescent birthday parties, was fitting as Charly Bliss musically demonstrated a childlike wonder about the world in a celebratory fashion.

Lead vocalist Eva Hendricks donned a frilly pink nylon jumpsuit bedazzled with rhinestones. Her blonde locks, initially pulled back behind her ears, flailed wildly during the instrumental breaks. By the third song, it hung in sweaty tangles in front of her face. In a colorful parallel to the evening sky, Hendricks sported a hot pink eyeshadow over a golden glitter waterline.

Charly Bliss opened their set with “Blown to Bits,” the opening track from “Young Enough.” The song is a mid-tempo fist pumper that begins with a droned-out synthesizer tone, adding instruments and voices one by one before ramping up to a pounding and triumphant chorus. The band kept this energy spinning with the warbly rock number “Percolator” off their previous album “Guppy.”

Guitarist Spencer Fox windmilled his arm to beat out rhythms while Hendricks rolled her pinked-out eyes for the sarcastic lines. She soulfully raised her hands to the air for the more emotionally wrought lyrics and pogo jumped during the more exciting instrumental phrases. Hair flew madly in every direction, arms were flailing and twisting, and the spectators were dancing along.

Charly Bliss blasted through their 16-song set with both vigor and stamina. The sound of fuzzy overdriven guitars bolstered with warm and retro synthesizers filled the room from wall to wall — and their energy was explosive to match.

Very little time was spent on banter, but when Hendricks did address the crowd, it was sincere and direct.

“A lot about this record was really personal and hard to talk about,” Hendricks told the audience. “We’re really grateful for the vulnerability that you’ve afforded us.”

The encore was an equally awkward but honest display. The band filed offstage, hung out in the wings for a brief and uncertain moment, then almost immediately came back onstage.

“This venue’s not really set up for a cool encore disappear and reappear schtick,” Hendricks confessed over the microphone.

They closed with a cover of “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers, to which the room exploded with enthusiasm. From the start of the show, they kept the energy at full throttle and paced their set beautifully. They could have easily played another hour and still kept the audience engaged.

Charly Bliss is a band just on the brink of maturity, trying to stave off a seeping cynicism and maintain their nostalgia and positivity. This is apparent in both their songwriting and their live performances. Even as failed romances and the ever-looming threat of adulthood come screaming through an otherwise peaceful world, they stand to prove that there’s just enough bedazzle and glitter to smear across it all.

Date: June 29, 2019
Venue: Casbah
Artist: Charly Bliss
Grade: A

Image courtesy of Weston Parks.