Let’s be honest. Getting to Sound Academy isn’t easy. There are few bands I would make the trek for (call me a venue snob if you must, but come on people, it’s FAR!). I did it for Metric, The Hives, and Teenage Head (go ahead and laugh). But, I would not miss seeing Topanga take the stage for such a high profile show for anything in the world. For any of you that have followed my reviews at all, you know that I have been to countless Topanga shows. In the process, I’ve followed their career and watched their overall performance as an ensemble develop in such an organic way. They earned this opportunity, and performed in the most modestly confident way possible. Rounding out their set with some new tunes, they killed it up there, surely exposing their talents to some new fans.
As much as I hate this venue, it sounds pretty damn good. One thing I can take from Hollerado’s set is that I realized that I should really have more of their music in my life. The crowd was excited and singing and dancing along by the second track. Shooting streamers and confetti into the crowd straight off the bat really set the tone for the whole set. A few songs in, Menno Versteeg (lead singer) introduced “Good Day at the Races” by saying, “Let’s play a song about the homophobic mayor! It’s actually for Freddy Mercury, but this one goes out to you Rob.” Great track that they ended strong with the line ‘Way down low, but I got somebody to love’ sung a la Queen. The vocal harmonies, and beautifully articulated guitar parts are rivaled by no other, as is their fearlessness to be humbly theatrical. Anyone who has read any of my reviews consistently knows that I’m a fan of seeing bands connect on stage-these dudes were all about that. Splicing in the occasional Christmas riff into random parts of their own tunes managed to showcase both their ability to laugh at themselves and to bring it musically.
Sidenote: I love all ages show for one simple fact: these kids ain’t afraid to crowd surf. Improperly. Hit up enough shows where ‘grown-ups’ stand motionless with arms crossed and you’ll be where I’m at on this standpoint.
After interacting with a few randoms from the crowd, I deduced that the ratio of people there to see Hollerado vs Tokyo Police Club was about 3:1. Times they are a changin’. That may explain why the flow of people stepping out of the crowd was steady and never seemed to stop as TPC kicked off their set. Four songs there was no crowd interaction. Six songs in; nothing. None. Comparatively speaking, to go from watching Hollerado’s solid interaction overall, to seeing a band barely connect with each other let alone their audience generated high levels of disinterest. I started planning my route home. They just powered through songs. It’s not a race, stop and say a little something. As their set progressed they started to acknowledge their audience a bit more, and started playing the crowd pleasers. I guess they just had to get all the other songs out of the way? One notable thing was their slow, serene cover of “Let It Snow”. As they played the first few bars, it started to snow indoors. That was lovely. I’ll give ‘em that.