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Concert Sun Mar 23 2014
I saw TOPS perform last year when opening for King Krule. I was immediately impressed with their pop driven songs. I honestly felt like they were old classics, songs I had heard countless times and still had not grown tired of them. As soon as this feeling would sink in, TOPS would change it up. They are not a simple retread of familiar sounds, but rather an evolution of them. It only makes sense that they are touring with their fellow Canadian Calvin Love, whose own music go towards a similar sense evolution, albeit via a different path. Together they form the Love on Top Tour as they passed through Schubas this past Thursday.
It is crucial emphasize how great it is to come on time to see openers, especially when they are as talented as Calvin Love. Love started his set to a very sparse crowd. Aside from a few very direct jokes about the latecomers, like dedicating "Waiting on You" to them, it didn't seem like Love cared. He played like he was in a full house. On his records, Love's music is a very dark and experimental version of the 80s synth that has come back into fashion. But when performing live he is filled with pure punk fury, which makes sense considering those are his roots. His croon is much grittier and his songs are faster. Luckily more and more people started coming into Schubas as "Cool", Love's most appropriately named song, sparked a dance party. I'm not saying the typical concert swaying and grooving, I mean full on across the room dancing. Even TOPS lead singer Jane Penny joined in as more than just a few rugs were cut during the second half of his set.
After all that dancing it was fitting that TOPS continue the jubilancy with the ever growing audience. Instantly the crowd caught on with their energy. It really isn't surprising; their songs have a completely approachable sense about them. "Turn Your Love Around", one of their catchiest off their album Tender Opposites, is lively as the band goes wild at its end. It's one of those moments that just explode though a crowd as Jane Penny's vibrant voice breaks through the band's feverish playing. They all work incredibly well together, playing off each other wonderfully. David Carriere guitar fuses with Madeline Glowicki's bass while Penny' gentle keyboards contrast Riley Fleck's strong drums. There wasn't an instance in there set where TOPS faltered.
TOPS music grew progressively more danceable and much like Love's set, this played an integral role to the end of the show. While the much denser crowd prohibited the area of the dance floor, there was still enough room for Love to join in and bounce along with everyone to TOPS. The band quickly returned for a final song at the behest of the crowd. They truly gave it their all, with Carriere spinning his guitar around his body. After asking if any one had a place for them to stay, both bands went out into the crowd to take pictures and talk with the audience.There was a lot of love going around at Schubas that night, all of it well deserved.