Last Wednesday, local act The Tropics sent a bolt of lightning through the chapel in their opening set for the extremely talented Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas. The Tropics, a five piece act, are a band that several of us here at SFCritic took notice of with the release of the group’s first single “Sleepless.” Playing a blend of folk rock and pop, the group is highlighted by smooth and haunting lyrics from singer Claire George. A firm bass line and looping guitar and keys provide the perfect architecture for George’s voice, which often transcends lyrical delivery to become an instrument of its own.
Going into the show, I knew I liked the sound of “Sleepless,” but I was a little nervous about the overall show, because it’s their only song currently available. Thankfully, the tropics easily exceeded my expectations and surprised me with a well-developed catalogue of music and refined stage presence.
The band started when George and guitarist Eric Silverman both responded to an ad for a different band on Craigslist, and finding that they had more in common musically with each other they struck out together to write music. In 2012 they began growing the band to the current members, adding Nate Skelton on bass, Ro Elston on guitar, and Kern Sigala on drums.
Their set included dynamic tracks, especially the last half that featured “Sleepless” (below) and a new high energy track called “Reckless.”
I had a chance to ask them some questions after the show and had to ask about the Sleepless video, which brings you back to simple joys of childhood. I asked them if they could share more about the process of making the video:
The kids were hilarious and fun to work with! The best stuff from that video was them just playing around in between shots. The little boy was already wearing the spider man costume when we arrived. Also, we made all the art work in the room – had a crafting party where we made all the posters you see on the walls of the video to get us back into the mindset of being little kids. It took us hours to clean up all the feathers. Claire had about 10 takes of getting whacked in the head with the pillow by the kids – they didn’t know their own strength and needless to say she definitely ended up with a headache.
When asked about songwriting, the group shared some insight into their creative process and how it is evolving as the band has grown:
Songwriting has become a much more collaborative process as the band progresses. We’ve been experimenting with a lot of different songwriting methods (starting with a melody, starting with a drum beat, long jams that we pick out sections from). Our newest material has come from all of us working together.
I would really like to hear more from the group, and luckily they are releasing new tracks “soon” and an EP Wind House in the Fall. Keep an eye out for them as they continue to book SF shows this summer and will set out on a west coast tour in the Fall.
Thanks to Kevin Slotemaker for help with pictures. Check out his work here.