Concert Review: Canada Day With July Talk
By: James Titford
Playing to a jam-packed George Street on Canada Day (July 1st), July Talk gave audiences a show they won’t soon forget and set the bar high for summer concerts in St. John’s. From the great opening sets of local groups Property and Soap Opera to the main event, it was a fantastic evening with some of the best music live music to take place on this day of national celebration.
Beginning around 7 the first band, Property took the stage. Fresh off their recent tour, Property brought home their signature brand of angular pop tunes to those lucky enough to have gotten to the show early. I would describe their music as being relaxed and warm sounding with a slightly hazy vibe that worked well for opening the show, like a sonic friendly welcoming to those both at the show and those arriving. After Property’s set was finished Soap Opera was on. Being the only band on the bill I hadn’t seen live or heard before, I was looking forward to seeing and hearing what Soap Opera had in store, and they did not disappoint. If Property were the ones to welcome the crowd, Soap Opera were the ones that got the crowd moving. With a blend of psychedelic, indie rock, funk, and their natural swagger on stage, they got the audience into a party mood. Including a cover of MGMT’s, “Electric Feel” was a great choice as they nailed the song with it’s laid back but also lively feeling, and it fit well in their set. These two bands did a great job on both playing solid sets and getting the crowd excited for what was coming next. I strongly recommend checking out both these bands.
After the opening acts were finished the sun had all but set but there was no loss of enthusiasm in this crowd, mostly because many them knew what was coming next, myself included. July Talk have proven themselves to be a true musical force through their studio output and live shows. This being my second time seeing them, I knew what I was in for, and was still blown away by the level of musicianship and showmanship of this group. Their sound is a beast all its own with the attitude and aggression of punk, the downtrodden feel of the blues, but also the energy and accessibility of pop. This eclectic mix brought together a huge mix of people of varied ages with diverse tastes in music which is always exciting to see.
The show began with frontwoman Leah Fay giving a powerful introduction to the show addressing everyone from all walks of life, welcoming everyone to their show. As their music sets no barriers for their listeners, it was powerful to see the band assure the crowd that the only barrier that night was the metal one between the stage and crowd, and even that was overlooked at times during the performance. One of the strongest points you can make for a July Talk show is Leah’s use of the stage and surrounding area. At the shows I have seen Leah has not only used the stage as a place to entertain and channel energy, but she literally brings it to the fans by doing such things as walking along the previously mentioned barrier and walking through the crowd while singing, making even a venue the size of a literal street feel more intimate.
This isn’t to say she’s the only one in the band who brings the entertainment, far from it. Peter Dreimanis has just as strong an impact while staying on stage. Seeing the two of them interact is some of the best chemistry I’ve ever seen in a performance. The way they work off each other both musically and physically is something that needs to be seen to be believed. With Peter’s low, gravely delivery, and Leah’s higher range, soothing tone, their voices complement each other perfectly both on their slower, softer songs such as “Strange Habit”, and the fast, hard-hitting tunes like “Paul + Mary”. When it comes to stage movements, the way they work together is captivating. They play off each other so well in a way that’s natural. For example, at one point, Peter was hunched over his keyboard playing with one hand and holding the microphone with the other. When his line was finished Leah takes the mic out of his hand while leaning on his back, taking over vocals while he has a look of surprise and shock, all while maintaining his posture and playing until he got the mic back. He does all of this while holding this expression, but they never draw attention to it, instead, the focus is on Leah posing on his back. It was subtle touches like this that made the on-stage interaction between these two seem real, unrehearsed, and leave such an impression.
While kept out of the spotlight, the rest of the band are just as vital to the sound and show as those front and center. Clothed in black, guitarist Ian Docherty, bassist Josh Warburton, and drummer Danny Miles stay to the sides as Peter and Leah lead the show, allowing them to focus on playing on a level that is on par, or above, that of the already fantastic studio recordings. They’re never out of view or pushed to the side, just not the visual focal point. This is fine because if there were more people brought into center stage it would take away from the dynamics between the two and would just be awkward and cluttered.
If you were in the mood for a show this past Canada Day, there was no better way to spend July 1st than with July Talk. A full evening of music from two up-and-coming local bands and one of the most explosive bands in the country was as good as it gets. With a summer full of concerts to look forward to, the season is already off to a strong, promising start.