It had been a while since my last July Talk show. Even before the world shut down, it had been a couple of years. Still, my memory of them being one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen proved to be true. One song in to their set at Bottom Lounge was long enough for me to see that they hadn’t lost any of their energy or skill.
I first heard of this band at a festival in their hometown of Toronto. They were completely different from all the other bands on that bill, and I made a point to see them every time they came to Chicago. I even joined a group on Facebook called July Talk Superfans because everyone I met at the shows was so nice. I lost touch with all those people when I deleted my personal Facebook account, but I’m sure they are all as excited as I was when the band announced this tour.
Early on in the pandemic they released the album Pray For It, but were unable to tour to support it. That album went on to win awards and receive high praise from critics. I’m sure not being able to play shows around it was very frustrating for everyone involved. You could feel all that pent-up anger and sadness being exorcised from them as they stormed through track after track on the Bottom Lounge stage.
Surprisingly, they chose to only highlight a few songs from the new album. They went for a more balanced setlist featuring songs from their whole discography. I don’t think the audience would have minded hearing some more of the new stuff, but they were absolutely exhilarated to hear the hits like “Guns + Ammuntion,” “Beck + Call,” and “Summer Dress,” which came as part of the encore.
If you’ve only heard July Talk through streaming services or on CD/Vinyl, you’re really just scratching the surface. They have a power and create such a connection with the people in the crowd, it’s impossible to recreate on a record. A lot of that has to do with Peter and Leah, who share the responsibility on vocals and who also share a background in film. They are visual people who understand how to put on a show that doesn’t just sound good, but looks good as well.
Honestly, even if you don’t like their music I would still recommend going to a show just to watch them. They way they interact with each other on stage is absolutely mesmerizing. They create this physical intimacy throughout the show that delivers a sense of intimacy with everyone in the crowd. Their performance reminds me a bit of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in that final carnival scene in Grease-the sexual tension is just bursting from the screen, and in their show, off the stage. I wouldn’t have been shocked to see a roadster outside that is not only automatic and systematic, but also hydromatic.
They’ve only got a few shows left in the States before they head over to Europe for a week or so and then back to Canada. If you live in Portland, Seattle, or Buffalo, I advise you to get your tickets before they sell out. Here’s a link to get you started.