Beat Kitchen picked a helluva time to showcase the best sound I’ve ever heard at the venue. Every instrument was clear, the rhythm section wasn’t teeth-rattling loud, and the vocals were pushed out front as they should be. That last bit is important, because without Jane Penny’s vocals, Tops wouldn’t be nearly as thrilling.
This was my first time seeing the Montreal natives live. Their 2014 album Picture You Staring featured one of my favorite songs of that year, “Blind Faze.” In 2017 they released Sugar At The Gate, which not only landed a song (“Petals”) in my top 100, but also garnered the #25 slot on my 50 best albums list. The Artubus Records mainstays didn’t have a new album to promote for this show, so it was mostly their older songs with a new one in the second half of the set and a cover of The Pretenders’ hit “Brass In Pocket” for the encore.
The crowd was moving pretty much all night, but it was the quieter moments that really impressed. Penny’s delivery of “Outside” induced chills as Jackson MacIntosh jammed on that Berlin-inspired bass line. A huge applause filled the room when Jane picked up her flute for the first of two solos.
Overall I was very pleased with the set. I kind of expected them to be trying out more new stuff, but I’m happy to hear songs I already know and like. They did a good job of mixing it up between Sugar and Picture, and even threw in a little from their debut Tender Opposites.
They were super tight and seemed to be in the pocket for the entire hour they played. It was one of the cleanest shows I’ve ever seen, with really only one mistake was evident. Toward the end guitarist David Carriere had a very quick, but loud, bang happen. I couldn’t tell what had happened, but the band rolled right along without missing a beat.
If you’re looking to get a copy of their most recent album, and you really should have it, you’re in luck! For the ridiculously low price of $12 you can get it on Bandcamp!