LIVE: Charly Bliss @ The Garage, London

By Ashwin Bhandari

If the Brooklyn bubblegrunge’s debut voyage to our shores two years ago was anything to go by, upgrading from Old Blue Last to The Garage means Charly Bliss aren’t here to fuck around.  This is particularly emphasized by their ceremonial entrance theme to Martika’s ‘Toy Soliders’ , as each member gradually arrives sporting plain white shirts and jeans, giving room for frontwoman Eva Hendricks’ dazzling strut onto the stage in a giant tinsel dress. “Come on dance! I dressed up like a Christmas tree for you guys!” she exclaims before the quartet spring into action with ‘Perculator’. This is the softer equivalent of a hardcore vocalist telling the audience to open up a pit, but reactionary nonetheless.

Sure enough, their passion delivers on this promise. The cosmic fuzzy energy from their debut record ‘Guppy’ was made for a live audience. Guitarist Spencer Fox regularly lifts his guitar over his head during ‘Westermarck’, whilst Hendricks and bassist Dan Shure constantly bounce around face to face like the stage is a hot lava trampoline.

The juxtaposing sweet instrumentation fuels the receptive singalongs to bitter quips like “She’s pro, I’m not that bad though, maybe I’ve gone too far” on ‘Ruby’. It’s a strong way to be welcomed back, however, once the first four songs are over, Charly Bliss shift sonic gears for something far more special. “We’re gonna play our new album front to back, consider this our album release show!” Eva announces tentatively.

Given that most of Charly Bliss’ childhoods are rooted forms of Broadway musical backgrounds, it’s apt that their demeanor for material on ‘Young Enough’ is unapologetically flamboyant. You feel like you’re going to fall into a sugar induced coma just from looking at them, and if that happens to be the case, what a delicious way to go. Smatterings of synth lines glide effortlessly across the room’s speakers, as a snare drum is brought onto the center of the stage for ‘Capacity’.

The band’s energy has both the uplifting choruses of a mainstream pop show and the intimacy of a DIY punk show, fused together to create something as close to unique as you’re likely to find. With that comes the catharsis of dealing with trauma in a safe, wholesome environment. ‘Chatroom’ and ‘Fighting In The Dark’ feel victorious in their nature, making everyone who’s been through scenarios relating to abuse feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s also truly heartwarming to see Charly Bliss come out of their alt-rock shells and embrace their love for empowering pop euphoria.

As if hearing ‘Young Enough’ in full wasn’t already enough of a treat, the encore is filled with ‘Guppy’ classics like ‘Q’ and ‘Glitter’ which see the room peak with exuberant energy.  A playful rendition of ‘Mr Brightside’ and thunderous screams for fan favorite ‘Love Me’ rounds the evening off nicely. It’s unlikely that they’ll play a lot of cuts from ‘Guppy’ live given their drastic change in direction, but it doesn’t matter – Charly Bliss are utterly invincible.