“This is the happiest dance party I’ve ever attended!” exclaimed Charly Bliss’ charismatic lead singer Eva Hendricks halfway through their delightfully fun set last week at the Lodge Room in Highland Park. And she wasn’t wrong.
From the moment the four-piece power band took the stage, the crowd sparked into non stop dance mode. And how could they resist? The New York band’s melodic riffs mixed with the sugary sweet vocals of Hendricks are the perfect recipe for an epic dance party! The stage decor also helped set the party mood, complete with a shimmery pink foil curtain backdrop that screamed high school dance. And Hendricks played the part of rock n roll prom queen flawlessly, wearing an adorable pink tutu dress paired with fishnet stockings and white Doc Martens. The boys in the band (Spencer Fox-guitars, Dan Shure- bass and Sam Hendricks- drums) all wore white, which added to the sweet aesthetic of the show.
The band, who just released their second studio album Young Enough in May, put on one hell of a show. They opened the night with the upbeat track “Blown to Bits,” and continued to play a majority of their newer material including “Capacity,” Bleach,” “Camera” and “Under You.” The title track “Young Enough” may have been the most well received song of the night, and surprisingly they played it about halfway into the set. The audience, as well as myself, was living for that song! It’s just so good!
Hendricks took a moment to talk about the new album and told the crowd it was a really personal album, with many of the songs tackling subjects that are hard for her to talk about. Indeed when you take time to dissect the lyrics to some of the songs, underneath the buoyant and bubbly sounds are some pretty heavy themes. The song “Chatroom” is based on an experience of sexual assault but still plays as upbeat as the rest of the tracks.
The confessional ballad “Hurt Me” was a show stopper. In the song Hendricks speaks to a partner who has “eyes like a funeral, mouth like a bruise, veins like a hallway, voice like a wound” then tries to convince her partner, or perhaps herself that “You don’t want to hurt me baby.” The flickering in her voice, as it builds in intensity, really draws the listener into the emotional pain and by the end of the song, you know that the damage is done, we feel the hurt. Often times it’s these emotional songs that turn out to be my favorite live, because you can feel the raw vulnerability of the performer as they sing, with their heart on sleeve, to a roomful of strangers. And in those moments, you feel connected, because they just let you into their private world.
Immediately after “Hurt Me”, the New Yorkers kicked it back up a notch with the cheerful banger “Hard to Believe” and had the crowd forgetting they were on the verge of tears seconds ago. I know it’s been said before, but Charly Bliss really have a very 90’s pop-punk-garage rock vibe. They had me thinking of bands like Veruca Salt or Letters to Cleo, or any one of those feel good bands whose music would fit perfectly in a teenage rom com! And to be clear, those are my favorite kinds of bands! So I am sold!
Throughout the show, Hendricks was a ‘Jill of all trades’ playing the keys, rocking the guitar and even banging on a snare drum, all while gloriously whipping her long blonde locks all about. She was truly a mesmerizing lead singer to watch, so full of energy and literally bouncing off the walls. The rest of the band followed suit with the high energy, dancing and kicking (yes there were some actual high kicks taking place on stage) all night, all while helping with backing vocals. These New York kids kick some major ass! What was really fun to watch is when the band members would lean on each other, back to back, or head to head, and just jam out. They looked like they were having the time of their lives up there and that kind of energy is infectious! I’m pretty sure I was smiling the whole time!
They ended the night with an awesome cover of The Killers “Mr. Brightside” (hell yeah!) followed by “The Truth.”Charly Bliss has become one of my new favorite bands and I’m happy I got to see them live. Their show is an irresistible good time! Check them out!
Words and photos by Betsy Martinez