On May 18, Charly Bliss brought their brand of snarky, sugar-rush indie rock to Ferndale’s The Loving Touch. In the beginning, the crowd was stirring a bit, due to opener Skating Polly having a medical emergency and unable to perform, but once Eva Hendricks and company hit the stage, they had everyone’s attention.
What makes Charly Bliss so magnetic is, hands down, their frontwoman. Hendricks commands the stage with a bewitching, off-kilter poise. She’s conscious of it, too. She keeps her bleached hair in a long bang across her forehead, a la MySpace Emo 2007, that started to stick with sweat to her forehead as the show progressed. More than her appearance, however, is her ability as a performer. Hendricks has the high, honeyed voice of a toddler that is praising a puppy. The contrast between her voice’s qualities and lyrics like “I can’t cum and I can’t lie / I can’t stop making myself cry” is one of the essential strengths of Charly Bliss.
That isn’t to say, however, that she overshadows her bandmates. Bassist Dan Shure and drummer Sam Hendricks provide backing vocals on most songs, and guitarist Spencer Fox absolutely shreds on tracks like “Love Me” and “Black Hole.” There’s an understanding that, yes, Eva is the most charismatic, but Fox brings the technical prowess and Shure and Sam keep the group on track.
Their set opened with smaller hits, like “Westermarck,” “Ruby” and “Glitter,” from their debut album Guppy, and it was a pleasure to watch Charly Bliss wind themselves up for the songs everyone was waiting for: “Black Hole” and “Percolator.” As mentioned, Hendricks is an intense performer, and to watch her sneer as she sings “I am pregnant with meaning / Could it be more appealing?” (spoiler: it couldn’t) or her eyes widen as she pleads “I’m a mess, I mean in the best case / Does he love me most? Maybe I don’t come close,” (again, spoiler: he doesn’t) is captivating.
As Charly Bliss led up to their most anthemic songs, they played some new material. Their trademark sonic elements were there, but the songwriting was a little different. Instead of collections of images or witty phrases, Hendricks rooted her romantic hang-ups in real moments, and dove into real, sincere expressions of frustration and sadness. It was powerful, and makes me excited for Charly Bliss’ future releases.
They ended the show with an encore of one of my personal favorites, “Love Me.” It’s a quintessential soured love song, and coincidentally, the first song off their first release, Soft Serve EP. Hendricks sings of a lover who frankly sucks, but she cannot help but blame her own shortcomings for the distance between them. The entire song is a capitulation of how intimacy reveals the unpleasant elements of your partner and — guess what— some unpleasant elements of you, too. And by now, Hendricks expects it: “up above me, say you love me / Just a little less / I know what happens next.” “Love Me,” and numerous other songs in Bliss’s catalog, are some of the most eloquent expressions of heartbreak in music right now. It’ll be exciting to see where they go next.