Good news! The Sunflower Lounge has upgraded from a shoebox venue to something more adjacent to a roomy cupboard. They’ve done this by knocking through a wall and popping the bar down some stairs. It is at this bar where I start to hear the first support act of three start to play. This is The Chalet Lines, a locally-sourced singer-songwriter. His first track is fine, but it’s on his second you start to realise what a voice he’s got on him. He can really belt out an anthem and makes a change from the usual guitar player/mumbler that you usually get.
Secondly, we’re treated to emo band Coffee Breath. They’re fans are all in tonight, singing along with and sometimes before the singer. They sound a bit like American football crossed with… Well they just sound like American Football really. They’re good at what they do, but they do come across as a bit local and I don’t imagine their sound will get beyond the M42.
The final support act of the night comes in the form of Mutes. Taking to the stage, you wonder what kind of band is this? The singer’s glam rock garb clashes a bit with the bassist who looks like he missed his slot in Coffee Breath and the drummer looks like he’s out of Johnny Foreigner, primarily because he is. Despite clashing so badly, the fashion police are narrowly avoided, Mutes turn out to be a solid heavy rock band. They have these long, wall-of-sound, head-bangers. Their sound stems from that shoegaze/dreampop era, but they seem to be doing something new with it. I recommend catching them live if you can.
Charly Bliss, who have been watching politely from the stairs, take to the stage shortly after Mutes wrap up. What is immediately obvious is the energy they’re bringing. Lead singer Eva Hendricks owns the stage, she’s swinging around, dancing like she’s off her head. She’s got a smile like she’s presenting CBeebies. She makes the whole thing a spectacle to watch. The other band members are playing along, but they can’t match Hendricks’ mad energy.
Originating from Brooklyn, they’re a band who formed after Hendricks got bored of musical theatre, but nevertheless, the theatrical roots do seem to show. Charly Bliss keep being compared to all those female-fronted bands of the 90s like Le Tigre and Plumtree. Really, they sound more like their contemporaries; Hop Along or Diet Cig but with a huge injection of pop. The one thing that definitely sounds like it’s from the 90s is Hendricks’ voice which (and I mean this in the best possible way) sounds like Joey Lauren Adams in Chasing Amy.
Charly Bliss are a fairly new band and it means you can whizz through their entire discography on the bus ride to the gig. This means that the crowd knows everything. The set is tight and it means every song is a mad, screamed, sing-along to the (often pretty dark) lyrics. Although leaving the crowd wanting more is generally a good move, I think they could have risked being on for a couple more songs. ‘Turd’ and their superb cover of Len’s ‘Steal My Sunshine’ were absent and they would have filled out the set nicely. In their place, we get a couple of new tracks, both of which sound like interesting blueprints for the song that will eventually make it to record. They’ve even admitted themselves they find their sound using trial and error, and tonight I am perfectly happy to be Charly Bliss’ guinea pig