After covering a violent hardcore show and a macabre heavy metal concert this November, a good-natured night of indie pop at Bar Le Ritz PDB was a welcome contrast on Saturday, November 23rd.
Starting off the show was Toronto’s Casper Skulls. Singer/guitarist Melanie Gail St-Pierre shyly introduced each song, unsure of how the intimate crowd would receive them. Each song was very personal to her, like “Ouija,” dedicated to her grandmother, which will appear on the upcoming record in 2020. The rest were more at ease, getting into the groove of their mellow, bittersweet music. Bassist Fraser McClean fiddled with a sampler between held notes. Aurora Bangarth pressed the keys of her synth when she wasn’t hammering on the drums. The audience gently swayed from side to side. More at ease, St-Pierre offered some advice: “Don’t wear velvet on stage, it’s hot.” They closed on “Primeval,” which had spoken poetic verses spouted by guitarist Neil Bednis, flowing into a serene chorus sung by St-Pierre.
I’m not usually one to gravitate to pop, but the first time I listened to Charly Bliss, I was hooked by Eva Hendrick’s sweet helium-high voice. I caught only a few of their songs at 77 Montreal. I was hoping to see them open for PUP in October for their Fall Apart tour, especially because apparently, PUP would invite Eva and Stranger Things actor Finn Wolfhard onstage to help them sing “Free At Last.” But I think contracts prohibited bands who performed at 77 from playing in Montreal until November. Regardless, I was happy I was able to catch them again for a full experience. Charly Bliss has had a busy year; not only did they release their second album Young Enough, but they also recently put out their EP Supermoon, all while touring for the past nine months.
As soon as Eva stepped onstage (it’s important that I distinguish her by her first name, since her older brother Sam Hendricks plays drums) in a frilly pink leotard, she was greeted with cheers and hooting. Once Eva took her station in front of the synth and the rest of the band was in place, they launched into “Blown ToBits.” Eva then transitioned from the synth to guitar, placing herself at center stage for “Hard to Believe.” An additional floor tom was placed in front of the stage, but was only used once during “Capacity.”
Watching Eva perform is such a delight because she is a big ball of joy. She’s constantly jumping up and down, and waving her hands high above her head, with the biggest smile spread across her face. The rest of the band look like their having a lot of fun too, and their combined positive energy fed the audience. Eva admitted to being slightly sick, and wasn’t able to hit certain high notes, but she encouraged audience members to sing along as much as possible. Throughout the set, Eva kept waving to the back of the room, saying that they made some friends at a nearby restaurant and invited them to a show.
The band closed with my personal favourite song, “Chatroom,”mostly because it’s catchy as hell, but also because it was released with dark music video. I sang along at high volume, especially when the full stopped for the line “I wanna see you strip down naked!”
With only two bands booked for the night, the show wrapped fairly early, giving me enough time to catch my friends in Vile Hussy at a different and much dirtier underground venue. Their music was a lot louder and grittier, a complete contrast from the wholesome bubblegum evening I was arriving from.
Written by Chris Aitkens
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Danielle Kenedy