Go Top Less for the holidays
Ah, the Christmas season. That time of year when you can get away with stringing rainbow-hued lights around your windows, covering every conceivable surface with tinsel, and having that one extra shot of Spicebox whisky until everything starts shimmering and pretty soon you’re dancing like nobody is watching, only everyone is because you’re making a shitfaced fool of yourself at the office party.
When you think of it that way, it’s a good thing Christmas comes but once a year. While it’s still the festive season, however, you’re well advised to hit what sounds like the event of the year: Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party’s Holiday Spectacular. From the name alone, you know it’s going to be off the hook, right?
“It’s just going to be a couple of small Christmas lights, with me playing an acoustic guitar, and maybe a harp, and that’s it,” says Top Less frontman Mike Shindler, interviewed at Georgia Straight HQ on West Broadway. “And Santa sitting there, reading things from Charles Dickens.”
Shindler is kidding, of course. He’ll actually be joined by his bandmates, who include Donne Torr (vocals, keys, guitar), Benny Schuetze (drums, guitar, keys, vocals), Ian Bevis (bass, vocals), Sean Tyson (drums, keys, vocals), Kevin Fairbairn (guitar), and Lucas Hamilton (guitar, keys). And a sedate, unplugged performance simply isn’t the Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party way.
“The shows are pretty wonky,” Shindler admits. “When we started playing, they were smaller ones, and we were dressing up like idiots. It was a bit more Tickle Trunk–y, and pretty wild. I think because we were quite wild, it really caused everyone in the crowd to go a bit crazy. I can’t remember back when this started, but there’s always a group of 10 or 20 pretty hot, buff dudes half-naked, partying at the front. And now people have started dressing up in sequins and stuff, and people bring their own glitter shooters and shoot stuff at people. And we used to glitter the crowd and stuff, but now we’re not doing that, because there’s been a few glitter-related injuries, almost.”
As mad and debauched as things might sometimes get, Shindler draws the line at any antics that put either the band or the audience in danger. In other words, don’t expect any swan dives from the balcony. “It’s rock ’n’ roll, but at the same time, rock ’n’ roll isn’t about injuring your fans,” the singer and multi-instrumentalist insists. “Your fans are like your friends, you know?”
Friends of Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party got a long-awaited treat back in September when the group released its first album. For a variety of reasons, mostly related to the vagaries of marketing, the group’s name has been shortened to Top Less on the cover, but its title is the full moniker. A dance-floor-savvy blend of indie rock and electronica, the LP is a glitter-bombed collection of tracks that are remarkable as much for the ingenuity of the songwriting as for the irresistible sheen of campy glamour. And for their variety, as well: the twee electro-pop of “Polar Bears” and the midnight-disco stomp of “My 5” couldn’t be more different at first blush, but they come together like chocolate and peanut butter.
Shindler says Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party was three years in the making, largely due to the inexperience of those involved. “None of us really knew what the fuck we were doing in the studio, so it was a lot of huge learning curves, production-wise, for us, and then just not being satisfied with things,” he notes. “So we had, like, six songs, and we’d be like ‘Okay, I think that’s good. We’ll put out an EP with these six songs.’ And then we’d write two more and be like, ‘Fuck, it would be really nice to put those two on there too,’ so we’d go back in the studio and do those ones, and then redo parts of the old ones because we’d just learned something new. It kind of just kept going a step forward, two steps back, you know? Until finally we got to a point where we were like, ‘Okay, I think it’s good, and for our own progress or growing purposes, we just need to get this out and move on with it.’ ”
With the album finally out, Top Less is back to doing what it does best, which is bring the party. So, while you can probably count on jolly old St. Nick to make an appearance at the Holiday Spectacular, don’t expect any readings from A Christmas Carol. According to Shindler, “It’ll be a Top Less show, with all the bells and whistles that you can normally expect—glitter and confetti and loud music and partying and lights and craziness and wildness—but there’ll be a Christmas element to it too.”