State Theatre Portland


Charly Bliss

Fri, March 30, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

State Theatre

Portland, ME

$26 Advance / $31 Day of Show

This event is all ages

Buy tickets in person at the Port City Music Hall box office (504 Congress Street) Wednesday-Friday 10AM-5PM, charge by phone at 800-745-3000, or online right here. State Theatre box office will open one hour before doors night of show.

After building a devoted fan-base through a year and a half of non-stop touring behind his band Bleachers’ well-received debut album Strange Desire, Jack Antonoff was spending time in studios in Los Angeles and Atlanta spit-balling ideas for a second album when he had a powerful realization. It struck him, as he was sitting in hip-hop producers Organized Noize’s studio in Atlanta, that the records that meant so much to him growing up— are rooted in a specific place. “They came from somewhere!” he says excitedly. “There’s an energy there and the artist is telling a story of how they were raised. It's a sound from a city, and they’re planting a flag in that city and saying, ‘This is what it's like to live here.’"

The New Jersey-born, New York-based Antonoff knew he needed to go home to the East Coast and build a studio. “It’s like you have to go sit in your bedroom and hear the music on the speakers you heard Graceland on the first time,” he says. “You gotta listen through the speakers you heard Smashing Pumpkins on the radio the first time. I had to get back to that space. So I did. I grabbed all this shit from my childhood bedroom in New Jersey and built a studio in my apartment in New York and I literally didn't leave it. I thought, ‘This album is going to sound like New York and New Jersey and the actual space I grew up in, in the most specific way. And that, to me, is the most I can offer.”

It was there in that room — surrounded by posters and flyers from punk shows he saw as a kid and his old baseball trophies and Star Wars figurines — that Antonoff created the epic, synth-driven anthems that appear on Bleachers’ second album entitled Gone Now, which is set for release on June 2, 2017. As a result, the album sounds like “the way the space looks,” he says. “It sounds like someone alone in their room, wrestling with their thoughts. It sounds like someone trying to create something very direct and simple amongst the chaos.”

Critics praised Strange Desire’s modern nostalgia and remarked that the ’80s-influenced songs could have served as a soundtrack to a never-made high-school-themed John Hughes film. On that album, Antonoff set emotional meditations on anxiety, depression, loss and picking yourself up after a tragedy (in his case, the death of his younger sister from a brain tumor when Antonoff was 18 and his struggled with a panic disorder in the aftermath) against a backdrop of earworm melodies and shouty choruses on songs like the gold-certified “I Wanna Get Better” (which topped Billboard’s Alternative chart) and “Rollercoaster.”

“The songs were about growing up and still sort of existing in the past,” Antonoff says. “The crux of the new album is my desperately trying to find a way to become some version of an adult, and not just be a giant child. I thought a lot about things like, ‘Where do I want to go from here? Do I want to be a person who has this extremely vibrant relationship with their art, but their life suffers in a million other places? Where do I want to go with my life?’”

Antonoff sought to answer those questions on every song on the album. On “I Miss Those Days,” he pines for a simpler time when “I knew I was fucked up and didn’t know why I was fucked up,” he says referencing the years he spent as a high-schooler touring with his first punk band, Outline, “driving around in a van and playing to no one. I was lost, but I miss those days because there’s a weight to having a purpose in something.” On “Hate That You Know Me” Antonoff realizes that when you build a life with someone and make plans for the future, “it makes you really exposed to the ways in which you’re a disaster,” he says. “There’s this accountability that is so intense. But it’s also about how amazing that can be if you’re willing to go there with someone.” Then there’s “Let’s Get Married,” which Antonoff wrote the day after Donald Trump was elected. “Marriage is such a wild, absurd concept, but the world was falling down into flames around my eyes, and I wanted to write this absurd celebration song that could play at weddings for the next hundred years.”

On each track, Antonoff searches for ways to illuminate humanity’s communal emotions, like the fact that no one is exempt from the experience of loss. “I think everything I do is always going to be rooted in that,” Antonoff says. “After my sister died, I started writing lyrics that weren't just angsty teen stuff. That’s when I started talking about very intense things. Fourteen years later, I’m still reflecting on that loss but through a different lens.” Antonoff’s current vantage point resonates on the song “Everybody Lost Somebody.” “At my worst moments, I see people on the street and think, ‘Which one of you motherfuckers voted for Trump?’” he says. “At my best moments, I see people on the street and I think, ‘Everybody has lost somebody.’”

On the album’s first single, “Don’t Take The Money,” Antonoff laments how our society has culturally lost the concept of what selling out means. The song was inspired by his buying a cut-rate phone charger at a Rite Aid when his phone died as he was running late to a meeting. “I got there and plugged the phone into the charger and I had this out-of-body experience where I could not believe how cheap the material was,” he recalls. “And I thought to myself, ‘That's the real problem.’ Whether you're making art or making a sandwich, you know when something could be better. Don't make it cheap. That's the last thing people need.”

As far as what Antonoff feels like people need from him as artist, he says: “I feel like they just need me to somehow capture the lightning in a bottle of what it’s like to be me, to grow up with loss, and then to try to move through the world within that. All I’ve wanted to do my whole life with my work is just take another step closer to myself.”
Charly Bliss
Charly Bliss
If it's true that listening to just the right record at just the right moment can psychically transport you to some other time and place, then Charly Bliss-an NYC band responsible for having crafted some of the finest guitar-crunched power pop this side of an old Weezer record with a blue cover-can pretty much turn any space into an adult-friendly version of your old teenage bedroom, a candy-scented safe space for extreme fits of happiness and angsty teen-level explosions of romantic ennui.

Though Charly Bliss has been a band for over half a decade, the path that led to their first full-length record, Guppy, has been anything but straightforward. As the story goes, the band officially started when frontwoman Eva Hendricks and guitarist Spencer Fox, both just 15, crossed paths at a Tokyo Police Club show in New York City, but the ties within the band go much deeper than that. "It's kind of insane and hilarious," says Eva, "Sam is my older brother, so obviously we've known each other our whole lives, but all of us have been connected to each other since we were little kids. Dan Shure and I dated when we were in our early teens and he and Spencer went to summer camp together. Dan and I broke up years ago, but eventually he'd become our bass player. The reason we all get along so well has to do with the fact we share this ridiculous history. We are all deeply embedded in each other's lives."

After spending years playing shows in and around New York City, the band eventually released an EP (2014's Soft Serve) and scored opening gigs for the likes of Glass Animals, Darwin Deez, Tokyo Police Club, Sleater-Kinney, as well as a touring spot for their own musical forebears, Veruca Salt. Even though the band had amassed a sizable fanbase and a reputation as a truly formidable live act, the goal of making a full-length record proved to be a fraught series of false-starts. Given their propensity for making hooky, ebullient pop songs, the band often felt out of step with what was happening around them in Brooklyn. ("We weren't weird in the right ways," says Sam). They eventually set about recording an album on their own-and then recording it twice-before figuring out what had been staring them in the face the entire time. "We basically had to come to terms with the fact that we are, at heart, a pop band," recalls Spencer. "Before, it was always trying to decide which of the songs would be more 'rock' and which would be more poppy, but we eventually realized we needed to meet in the middle, we had to create an ecosystem where our loud, messy rock sounds could co-exist with these super catchy melodies and pop hooks. It was really about realizing what we're best at as a band."

The ten tracks that make up Guppy, Charly Bliss' sparkling full-length debut, show the band embracing all of their strengths-a combination of ripping guitars and irrepressible pop hooks, all delivered with the hyper-enthusiasm of a middle school cafeteria food fight. That every track is loaded front-to-back with sing/shout-worthy lyrics and earworm melodies is a testament to the band's commitment to the art form of pop songwriting. Opening track "Percolator" sets the tone-all power riffs and yo-yo-ing melodies playing against Hendricks' acrobatic vocals, which veer from gentle coo to an emphatic squeal:

I'm gonna die in the getaway car! I would try but it sounds too hard!

It's a vibe that carries throughout Guppy, a record that shares an undeniable kinship with 90's alt-rockers like Letters to Cleo and That Dog-bands that balanced melodicism, sugary vocals, and overdriven guitar turned up to 11. It's an aesthetic that Charly Bliss both embraces and improves upon in tracks like "Ruby" ("We actually wrote the guitar solo by sitting in a circle and passing the guitar around, each of us adding our own notes," says Fox) and "Glitter", the record's first single. "I wanted to make a song about being romantically involved with someone who makes you kind of hate yourself because they are so much like you," says Hendricks, "A fun song about complicated self-loathing that you could also dance around your bedroom to-that kind of sums us up as a band, actually."

"Pop music can actually be very subversive," she continues. "The lyrics that I'm most proud of on the record are me existing both in and out of this overgrown teenybopper feeling-feeling like everything I was going through was the most extreme thing that had ever happened to anyone ever. The songs are often about being totally in the throes of this stuff, but also being able to step out of it and make fun of myself. It's possible to write songs that really get at all of these dark feelings while also just being really fun to sing and dance to. You can be serious and also sing about peeing while jumping on a trampoline."

Guppy is a record that doesn't so much seek to reinvent the pop wheel so much as gleefully refine it. "People forget sometimes that expressing joy is just as important as examining despair," says Shure. "People need joy, especially right now. We're all about writing tight pop songs, but also giving people this super enthusiastic release. These songs are kind of the sound of expressing something that you can't really contain. These are songs you play really loudly when you need to freak out."
Venue Information:
State Theatre
609 Congress St
Portland, ME, 04101