We thought we knew what we were letting ourselves in for when we arrived at the O2 Academy in Bristol to watch July Talk play.
After all, we’d done everything we could to prepare for their set. Listened to their complete back catalogue on Spotify? Check. Trawled through their YouTube channel, and did our very best to get every snippet of footage that they’d unleashed to the world in front of our eyeballs? Check. Heck, had we even checked out their Wikipedia page to try and find out exactly what makes this band of ramshackle Canadians tick? You bet your bottom dollar we had.
So, when we walked in to the venue, we felt pretty confident that what we were about to witness would prove to be little more than a relatively straightforward performance of some (admittedly excellent) indie rock-and-or-roll songs.
Oh, man, how wrong we were.
Now, the first thing we should probably say is this: they were really, really good.
As in, seriously. Jeez. We mean, we were expecting them to be good – after all, we had Looked Them Up Online – but we weren’t expecting them to be that good. Songs that merely sounded strong through our speakers suddenly sounded great; drum fills that were questionable on record suddenly became humongous. They were, frankly, excellent.
There is, however, one thing that we should probably mention if we are to make this a fair and honest review of a July Talk performance. That, dear reader, is this: as impressive as it may be, the band’s live show is indiscriminately, remarkably, and undeniably… Odd.
There was throaty grunting. There were gyrations against the microphone stand. There was licking. Licking. Of course, unpredictability is the backbone of rock and roll; and, naturally, we hope it goes without saying that we’re more than partial to a bit of rock and roll here at One on One HQ. But, still, we have to draw the line somewhere, and we appear to have decided to draw it at the sight of the band members licking each other’s sweaty faces.
That is, of course, not to take away from the ensemble’s clear musical talents. Like we said, they knew how to perform the hell out of their already-very-well-written back catalogue. Don’t believe us? Check it out for yourself:
Still, we’re still just not sure what to make of them.
We think that they’re good. We know that they’re good. After all, there’s a hell of a lot to love here. The dynamic between the band’s dual vocalists is incredible, and the rhythm section are as tight as any we’ve seen in our many, many years of reviewing indie-rock bands on cold Monday nights.
But, after seeing their live show – a live show that was comprised almost solely of fantastic guitar music, lunging band members, and streaks of sweat dripping down the members’ cheeks – we’re just not sure of one thing. Do we like them? Or are we a little bit scared by them?
Either way, we know that we’ll be back for more the next time they’re in town. They came, they played, and they sufficiently weirded out this humble reviewer: ladies and gentlemen, you can think what you want about them, but we can guarantee that you’ll never forget a July Talk show.