Charly Bliss – Live at McCarren Park – 8/12/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
Last night, this site ran a summary of what went down at Sharkmuffin’s release show last Friday. About halfway through that post, a lot of ecstatic praise gets directed towards Charly Bliss, who have somehow only managed to get better since releasing what might be the best EP of the decade so far. Since the release of that EP, their name has shown up here quite a few times and guitarist/vocalist Eva Hendricks was even kind enough to submit a wonderful piece to the A Year’s Worth of Memories series. When they were announced as the pre-film band for SummerScreen, Brooklyn’s best film and concert series, I immediately cleared any lingering conflicts to make sure I could be in attendance. Their slot came right before Labyrinth, which won a poll to emerge as the “Audience Favorite” pick- ensuring that the quartet would be playing to a large crowd.
Before the show, Hendricks was wracked with nerve while the band’s other guitarist/vocalist, Spencer Fox, remained nonchalant. It took them less than a minute of diving into “Percolator”, the first song of their set, to find a middle-ground in giddy energy. One of the things that I’ve come to love the most about Charly Bliss is that when they play live, they’re clearly doing what they love and coaxing the most out of it that they possibly can. Instead of coming across as showy or theatrical, their stage antics feel grounded in an honesty that makes them even more compelling. It doesn’t fade, either, it builds as it goes until the band collectively approaches a white-hot intensity that makes the band members actually exploding seem about as likely as their amps blowing.
Unmistakably a Charly Bliss set (read: unbelievably great), the outdoor, family-friendly setting suited their sunnier sensibilities to perfection and the sound carried extraordinarily well. Small children danced, a handful of senior citizens cracked smiles, and a man on a bench outside the gates couldn’t help himself from shaking his head in admiration- and then in tempo- by the time the band hit “Love Me“, their perennial closer (and one of this site’s picks for last year’s best songs). From the audience’s increasingly positive reactions to the post-set autograph requests, it was abundantly clear that they’d made more than a few converts- and they did it on their own terms, doing one of the things that they love most. It’s exactly the kind of thing that this site was built to celebrate. As classic as Jim Henson’s Bowie-fueled fever dream has come to be, it wasn’t even close to the evening’s finest moment. Great weather, a great set riddled with great songs, and a sense of genuine camaraderie tipped the scales and everything- as it has so frequently in the past year- came up Charly Bliss.
A gallery of photos from Charly Bliss’ set can be seen here and a video embed containing a few songs from the set can be found below.