July Talk have built their band on contrasts. From the raspy, alpha male rumble of Peter Dreimanis’ vocals grazing the bubblegum sweet sounds Leah Fay down to the stark black and white merchandise and music videos, they leave no detail untouched in their quest for the contrary. It might come as a surprise for you to hear then that, somehow, they have made it work, and judging by the reaction from the sold out crowd at the Phoenix the other night, they would be willing to fight to the grave to prove it to you.
I am not new to July Talk. Their album has been in rotation at my house for quite a few months. I can sing along with any of their biggest fans, but I had never seen them play before and went in feeling apprehensive. I had heard that they could be theatrical, that they occasionally pulled stunts like duct taping each others mouths shut or scenes involving fake blood, and honestly, that it is the type of stuff that would normally turn me off. As I watched them play though, I quickly realized that these so-called theatrics were actually quite spontaneous and were used as a means to involve the crowd. For example, Fay entering the stage wearing a long fur coat which she teased the crowd with in an almost burlesque fashion before Dreimanis helped unrobe her a couple songs later much to the approval of their adoring fans.
Any hesitation I may have felt about July Talk’s live show dissolved within the first few songs. Their radio hits “Guns + Ammunition” and “Summer Dress” were played with as much intensity and heart as their lesser known songs like “Black Lace” and “Blood and Honey” and the crowd responded accordingly. In fact, the crowd managed to work itself in to such a frenzy that it had to be gently reprimanded by Fay who suggested that alike being “too drunk to fuck” they were perhaps they were too drunk to hold crowdsurfers up at the moment. It didn’t end there, however, and as they ended the night with an encore of “The Garden”, there were numerous fans climbing up on to the stage for one last jump in to the crowd or simply in an attempt to grab their ten seconds of fame.
As in all things with contrast, I was happy to discover that July Talk is as much about subtleties as they are their differences. In their case, the subtleties are only obvious when watching them live. Fay’s sweet, almost shy persona which carries throughout their album is dropped on stage where we are introduced to a sexy, confident woman who knows how to appease her audience. Likewise, the tough guy that you would expect from Dreimanis is shed on stage when you see the softness in his mannerisms and the way he interacts with the crowd and Fay. Either way, if you are in search of the raw and unpredictable, or the playful and fun, you will not be disappointed after seeing a band like July Talk play. They are pure rock n’ roll, and you will walk away knowing that you just witnessed something relatively small on their way to being something really big.
For our interview with July Talk, click here.
Review by Amanda Collins | @littlestarphoto