Light floods out into the crowd in thick beams. I immediately notice the bed on stage. I had the pleasure of walking to the gig with a girl whose friend had set the stage up. She said to look out for it, that all the stage hands had been wondering what it was going to be used for….
The energy swells and the band makes their way into the flooding lights. This is my first time hearing July Talk, they are the only band that has been recommended to me more than twice; they have amazing word of mouth. The club is packed. In come the musicians. If you haven’t heard any of their music, now would be a good time to look some up. You will be as surprised as I was at the intensity of the male lead’s voice. Peter Dreimanis sounds like Tom Waits in a huge way. Then comes the trilling voice of Leah Fay who exudes the kitten ‘90’s punk lady that we all fell in love with while wearing flower dresses and Doc Martens. Juxtaposed to Dreimanis, the dynamic is intoxicating. She moves towards the bed…but doesn’t get on it yet…
Every member seems to have their own style of rocking out. The lead male moves like James Dean calmly impersonating Elvis, his knees gently sway. Leah lives to do backbends while holding onto the mix stand. She’s adorable. She has a joyous air about her; like a children’s TV show host. “Who feels like dancing?” She screams. When she finally makes her way to bed she lies languidly across and yells, “Let’s hear you SCREAM Toronto!!” The whole crowd goes nuts.
So, showmanship. Yes. The band has definitely figured the half-way theatrics that fill out what’s happening on stage. Besides our attention being drawn to the bed, and the metaphors that it incites, their sound is extremely well rounded. The electric elements are amazing, but the country infused anthems are the best in my opinion. It lets Peter’s Tom Waits voice shine and allows Leah’s to transform from 90’s punk to pigtailed dolly, and because of that her sinister cackle in the middle of the songs work so well.
As it all draws to a close, I am sad that it is over. July Talk exists in wonderful world where the darkness of thought and lyric exists on a stage where their female lead yells things like ‘Pillow fight!’ Their music is jaunty, electric, folky, dark, thoughtful, vintage, and brand spanking new at the same time. Picture a wooden house leaning into corn field, dark skies behind, in the brightly lit kitchen a blonde with a pixie cut jumps around on the black and white checkered tiles; four men sit on the porch with their instruments, singing against her and with her, making beautiful music that is only made truer by the landscape surrounding it. ‘Blow us kisses goodbye!” She screams, and after three massive canons on the balcony bomb the audience with feathers, it’s all over.