Montreal pop quartet TOPS graced SLO Brew Rock’s stage on November 16, 2021. The show, a stop on their “Party Again” tour, was a delightful and sunny affair perfect for a reopening world.
Opener Sean Nicholas Savage started off the proceedings with a collection of ballads and torch songs. Savage is a gifted vocalist; his agile tenor rasp is capable of elevating sparse backgrounds of piano, strings and classical guitar into grand melodramas. His voice is additionally complemented by a striking stage presence. Savage stood slightly outside a solitary spotlight for the majority of his set, casting a dramatic shadow over his features that perfectly accompanied songs like “Life is Crazy,” which is a hyper-emotive Broadway showstopper.
Once Savage’s performance ended, TOPS came onstage and immediately launched into the aforementioned “Party Again”. Their gauzy, synth-pad-inflected pop songs, such as “Superstition Future,” “I Feel Alive” and “Witching Hour” were a clear hit with the audience, but an unexpected delight came in the form of their jam-band chops. TOPS indulged in a deep cut — 2015 one-off single “The Hollow Sounds of the Morning Chimes” — and turned it into an expansive odyssey, with guitarist David Carriere and vocalist/flutist Jane Penny trading solos while the band’s rock-solid rhythm and keyboard section tethered them to earth.
After crowd favorite “Way to be Loved” — a showcase for drummer Riley Fleck’s understated feel — and the lowkey “Petals,” TOPS exited for the night, until the crowd that was pleading for one more song brought them back. Their returning gift was “Waiting,” another new single from their upcoming album.
TOPS can be found on Instagram at @tttopsss and their newest single “Waiting” can be streamed on Spotify.
Jordan Bates is a biochemistry major and a content writer and DJ trainee for KCPR. Jackie Espitia is an art and design major and photographer for Mustang Media Group.