The upper bar of Prague’s club Chapeu Rouge is packed with drunk Irishmen celebrating St. Patricks Day. The dimly lit wooden interior with posters of bikes and girls screams Rock n’ Roll. But I am not there to drink overpriced Corona and admire the punk atmosphere. What interests me more is the concert, which is about to take place in the underbelly of the tiny venue.
Four years in existence, the Canadian alternative band July Talk managed to shake Prague’s Underground already twice. They first visited the Czech Republic in the space of Prague’s ROXY in 2015. Now the band introduced new line-up from the 4th album “Touch” released in 2016 on the shoebox stage of Chapeu Rouge.
The show begins with a solo Czech performer, Lazer Viking. When he introduces his second album “Flesh Cadillac,” the crowds reaction is awkward silence. Spirit child of Kurt Cobain spits around the stage and sings jewels with names like “The Pizza Rat’s Last Slice” with in-built speakers as his back-up. The initial shock yields to excitement when this distinctive, but talented singer dives into the pit. By the third song he has us by the hair. Although nobody knew who he was or what he sang about, we enjoyed it.
July Talk frontwoman Leah Fay marches on stage after Lazer Viking’s “March of Eclectic Children” tunes out and greets the fans in broken Czech: “Děkujeme že jste přišli, bavíte se dobře?” (Thank you for coming. Are you having fun?) The effort she put into interacting with the audience is rewarded by deafening cheers.
Second later, the other lead singer Peter Dreimanis, starts stalking around the stage. Growling in his Leonard Cohen bass, Dreimanis weighs out Leah’s high-pitched voice. The Beauty and the Beast theme is highlighted by deep hums of electric and bass guitars, played by Ian Docherty and Josh Warburton. Initial flow, akin to indie rock, is disrupted by the sudden bangs of drums by Danni Miles. It’s really hard to fit July Talk into any specific genre. Somehow the band is able to join pop voice, jazz vocal and punk rock instrumental without an absolute mishap.
Another specialty of July Talk is the physical aspect of the performance. Dreimanis follows Leah with animalistic gleam in the eye, as Fay spins in and out of his reach. The energy is both fragile and aggressive. They don’t forget to include the crowd either. Passing around bottle of Jameson, both singers hold hands with their fans and lean down to sing with them. To be so in touch with your audience requires not just musical talent, but social talent.
The band proves that Canadian hospitality is alive and well. It makes me wonder, if Metallica also held hands with their fans when they performed behind garages back in the 80s.Just before disappearing off stage, July Talk announced the will play in Prague again soon, although no date has been confirmed. Keep your eyes peeled for this jewel of alternative rock. They are a fresh breath of air into the genre that’s still considered a gimmick.
Photo courtesy of Szorfdeszka.hu