Back in 2012, I was listening to the radio and the host of the show mentioned a new band that had blown his mind.
The band was the Toronto-based alt-rock outfit July Talk and they had just released their self-titled debut album.
I was immediately drawn to the playfulness of the music and the dramatic interplay between singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay. Peter’s raspy, commanding vocals entwined with Leah’s soft yet aggressive tones, I was sold from the first listen.
Since that fateful first spin, I have been following the band and have seen them live a number of times. In that time, one of my hopes has been that they would someday come and play a headlining show at the fabulous Commodore Ballroom.
Well, that wish came to fruition on Wednesday night when the band played to a sold house.
I walked into the venue moments before the band took the stage.
The crowd was a pretty consistent demographic, a younger adult contingent with an alt-hipster flare, but mostly just a group of average medium-sized-club going concert lovers ready to take on the night.
The house lights dimmed and the band quickly took over the stage.
A series of white cone lights lit the band from behind as they dove head first into their set.
Leah was like a panther stalking her prey up until the moment she uttered her first lyric. Looking out across the crowd from behind a menacing Kubrick stare, pacing back and forth. Peter walked around getting set for the first song with an evil grin strewn across his face. Without having said a word both of them had added a level of anticipation to the soon-to-happen performance.
The band then slammed into the night with their first song.
That brewing expectancy erupted throughout the venue. The audience were immediately bounding up and down to the rhythm and the artists delivered each note and each lyric with a purposeful, forceful precision. The explosion slightly mellowed after the initial blast in the opening of that first song but the excitement never came back down through the remainder of the performance.
Loving the interplay of both singers on their recorded material was one thing but seeing their live give-and-take with one another was a whole other beast.
Dreimanis and Fay taunt each other and mess with each other. They port over a certain punk aesthetic to their stage show, one that has them purposely attacking one another but in a playful way. It was somewhat semi-sexual, like two lovers riling each other up before culminating in an explosion of passion. In this case, the little pushes and pinches and hair-pulling and all those wonderfully somewhat flirtation interactions stirred up their performance and increased the emotion and intimacy of their delivery. It was simply entertaining to watch them interact.
The open floor before the band had swollen with nearly everybody in the house becoming one with the leaping frantic mass. Very few seats in the house actually had asses in them.
The excitement and intensity of the show swelled through the night.
Looking around at the sweaty, smiling faces around me, we all tried to reciprocate our appreciated and sang the lyrics to every song we could remember. Our heart rates climbed as the band powered on into the wee hours of this above average Wednesday.
By the end, I was exhausted and flabbergasted once again by the magic of these musicians.
July Talk are ones of those bands that are important. They are doing something that matters in the world of music by crossing genres and delivering impactful presentations. In a time when a lot of bands call-it-in, this 5-piece Canadian crew is delivering the type of performances that can redefine a generation and inspire a whole new era of artists, other musicians, and just human fucking beings.
The band has a second show tonight at the Commodore Ballroom, and you should honestly drop whatever you are doing and get your ass down there to have it kicked by them.
You will not be the same.
I wish I could have listed the songs that they played, but it was all a blur, and my memory isn’t what it used to be.
Hopefully next time they come to town we can arrange an interview with them. I would love to pick their brains.
I would like to thank the band for such a magical night, and I hope they have a stellar show tonight.