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Tuesday, December 12 News

The Home Team / Bliss in Brooklyn

I walked up to the two burly types guarding the door and said, “Charly Bliss is the headliner tonight, right?”

I had two reasons for asking the question: One, Carol and I were hoping to grab dinner at a bar around the corner from the venue, and we didn’t want to miss any of the set. And two, I just liked the sound of the band’s name, “Charly Bliss,” coupled with the word “headliner.”

“Yup,” one of them confirmed. “There are two acts before them. They’ll be on around 10.”

Bingo! How cool was that? Charly Bliss — four Westport kids — headlining at the Music Hall of Williamsburg! Serious, big-time bands play there!

Hearing live music is my main entertainment thing. You tell me you’re going to listen to some band somewhere, and I’m down. And for awhile now, I’ve known I’d have to go see Charly Bliss. I mean, my youngest son was in the same school — same grade! — as frontwoman Eva Hendricks since kindergarten, for goodness sake! Eva was insanely talented as a kid: school plays, holiday shows, you name it — she was head and shoulders above the rest. So based on that alone, her band was something I needed to check out.

But when music critic Jon Dolan called “Guppy,” their debut full-length album, “brilliant” in the July 13-27 issue of Rolling Stone? And when I noticed they’d be playing in a red-hot Brooklyn club? Boom! No-brainer.

Carol and I made it back from dinner to the Music Hall in time for the pre-opener, and then the opener. Both bands had their cadre of fans. Both drew a modestly enthusiastic response.

Then Charly Bliss took over. And all hell broke loose. Eva, with her “helium-squeak voice” (not my words, Rolling Stone’s — but spot on) and her irresistible, trademark, up-and-down, side-to-side two-step move as she slashed away at her guitar, had the crowd levitating. She, along with her brother Sam on drums, Spencer Fox on vocals and guitar, and Dan Shure on bass, were barely able to contain their energy as they rocked and bounced, blasting their music “with the hyper-enthusiasm of a middle school cafeteria food fight.” (I cribbed that phrasing from the band’s own bio.)

And oh, did the crowd respond! They were punching the air, bopping in place, screaming lyrics, accompanying the band on their own air guitars. Eva appeared positively knocked out by the reaction. “We’re used to playing in front of, like, two people,” she said — or words to that effect. “But ohmygod, this is (expletive deleted) awesome!”

The music, to me, was crank-up-the-volume, high-voltage, dancy pop/rock. Critics have called it power pop, indie rock, grunge pop, glitter grunge — and the band has been likened to Weezer, the Breeders and Veruca Salt. And I’ll throw that comparison back yet another musical generation to the punk-rock band Blondie, and its charismatic frontwoman, Debbie Harry.

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I spent last weekend with my son Robby and a bunch of his buddies — all Staples classmates of Hendricks — and I mentioned to them that Carol and I had just seen Charly Bliss earlier that week. One of them told me he’d been really good friends with Eva in preschool. Later on they traveled in different crowds, but he remembers her singing at their Bedford Middle School graduation. “She blew everyone away,” he said. Which is exactly what she did that Thursday night in Brooklyn.

In 2016-17, an earlier Staples grad, Justin Paul, won a Tony, a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his amazing song-writing in the play “Dear Evan Hansen” and the film “La La Land.” Now, Charly Bliss.

A bunch of local kids, making it big. That’s always a cool thing.

“The Home Team” appears the first Friday of every month. You can also keep up with Hank’s adventures on his blog, “Beagle Man,” on the Westport News website, at: http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/ To reach Hank, e-mail him at DoubleH50@gmail.com.

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