Updated: Sep 6, 2022
Indie garage rocker T. Lopea and the gang brought us to Erskineville for an evening filled with loop pedals, role playing, stories about the mafia, and (obviously) some fantastic music. Sunday’s gig was arranged to help launch T. Lopea’s vibrant debut LP, ‘International Man of Mystique’.
Honestly, T. Lopea could be the most colourful artist persona we’ve seen in Sydney’s indie scene as of yet. His backstory: after losing his memory and half his passport in a car crash, Lopea embarks on a journey to find himself, and judging by the contents of his suitcase, he used to be an internationally acclaimed rockstar. Well, maybe.
To see for ourselves whether his conjecture could possibly be true, we showed up on Sunday evening and got comfy on the seats in MoshPit Bar.
Loop pedal wizard Tommy Francisco - who has been releasing a new song every two weeks since 2020 - started the evening off with his easy onstage manner. As challenging as it is to wield a loop pedal live, Francisco built up each song with confidence, culminating with his dynamic Ed-Sheeran-esque original ‘Train’. He then went a step farther, extending the number to include a mashup of covers before ending his set.
Next up was one of my favourite performers since I started regularly attending post-lockdown gigs. Central Coast based singer-songwriter Elysaé shone onstage with originals like the poignant ‘2 Sips Away’ - a song about a friend who had struggled with mental health - to her feel-good anthem ‘Blinded’. The singer-songwriter was accompanied by percussionist Alex, who showed off some serious skills by, at multiple points, playing a different percussion instrument with each limb. By the time Elysaé finished her set, we were ready for more new music, which she promised was on the way.
Finally, the man of mystique himself rocked up onstage, wearing his trademark glasses and cap, and bringing his laptop - which he kept in his suitcase for the entire show. Very in character. We loved it.
Supported by his bassist Tom O’Sullivan, T. Lopea’s deep, gentle vocals and soulful plucking created some magic moments, particularly when he sung slow-burner ‘Chartreuse Eyes’.
T. Lopea’s set was marred by various technical challenges because - worst nightmare ever - in a rare event, the sound guy didn’t show up. This would have phased any seasoned performer, but to our amazement, T. Lopea sailed through with the calmest disposition ever. When his guitar didn’t work in the first song ‘See You There’, Lopea got the audience to clap. When the backing track dropped out during the deliciously written ‘Postcard of Positano’, he and O’Sullivan continued on.
In the author’s humble opinion, Lopea could have killed it without a backing track. Lopea’s guitar picking is exquisite and so is his voice, which could have easily carried the duo, as it did during their performance of ‘Postcard’. That, paired with Lopea’s outlandish and lovingly long-winded stories - one about ending up driving a yacht for a mafia family, and a second involving another audience member with a wig, which I’m still trying to work out - between songs would make for another winning show.
Like the artist himself, this EP launch gig was fun, friendly and quirky. Lopea brought an incredible world to life onstage, and we wanted more of it. So we went back home and put his LP on full blast.
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