Review Colin Crawford Photos Keiko Hart
Out in the middle of East Van, we found ourselves walking up to the quaint Wise Hall. The 80’s prom dance aesthetic of the hall was a perfect fit for Montreal heartthrobs TOPS. Decked out in burgundy denim, quietly powerful frontwoman Jane Penny, led TOPS in a dreamy, sensual set to an eager Vancouver crowd. After several songs of Penny casually tickling her keyboard and hypnotizing the hall, she slowly shed her overshirt and picked up her guitar. This instantly changed the energy in the room as the crowd recognized their hit track Way To Be Loved with the first chord. Subtly but masterfully bringing the crowd up and down with their setlist, TOPS’ live show feels like a long cruisy bike ride you never want to end. All smiles between tracks, Penny commented on how she liked the venue, and asked the crowd for a joke. While handing the microphone to an eager comedian, another fan pushed their way forth to gift Penny a bouquet of plastic white flowers, a gesture most of the crowd wished they had thought of. The crowd demanded TOPS back to the stage for a double encore, including the ethereal Outside to close things of.
The party did not end there however, as a procession of fans made their way to the after party at the Tiki Bar a few blocks away. After catching the end of a funky Vinyl Ritchie DJ set, TOPS showed up with a crate of their own records to spin. This campy, over-decorated lounge bar was a great setting to groove to old disco, funk and soul tunes. From dancing with the band to chatting outside over cigarettes, this evening with TOPS felt more like a classic night out with old friends than anything else. Despite their growing fame and success, these young Canadian artists have a charming sincerity and approachability both on and off stage. After living and recording in Los Angeles for the past year, and touring on and off with the Allah-Lahs all over North America, TOPS is a crafty pop group to keep your eye on. The unofficial word is that their new album will be out in January, so stay tuned.