Photos courtesy of Nicki Chang-Powless
We showed up at about 7:30pm, to feel out the room and determine if there seemed to be a better place to watch and hear the show. Downstairs at Mac Hall is a decent sized auditorium with a bar section, a very high ceiling, brick walls, garage style doors on one side and double industrial warehouse style doors on the other – not a room at first glance where you would expect the acoustics to work well, but it does. The few dampeners on the wall above the entrances to the bar area do what they are there for and stop the bounce so no one gets hit in the back of the head with the music that just passed through them coming from the stage.
The show started on time with Mona hitting the stage at 8:00pm, and hit they did. I had never heard of this band until that night, but I am converted; I think they have a long career ahead of them and their sound should take them where ever they want to go. I am hard pressed to compare them to another band, not so much because they have such a terribly original sound but because they made gritty vocals, four heavy guitars and solid drumming into their own sound. Only seven songs and this band from Nashville, Tennessee had the room bouncing, applauding, roaring, and singing on cue. Not knowing the band precluded knowing the tunes, but they are on YouTube, so after a quick search I recognized, “In the Middle,” “Teenager,” “Shoot the Moon,” and their closer – “Lean into the Fall.” If you get the chance to see or even just listen to these guys, I highly recommend them.
After a quick stage changeover, Adam Baldwin and his band took the stage. These guys looked like they feel asleep in the 70’s, woke up just a few minutes before the show and wandered onto the stage. The keyboard player was beyond hot, the music in general was diverse with a blues / rock feel at its heart. Mr. Baldwin made it clear he had a wonderful relationship with July Talk and that would explain why his band wasn’t on first, but I think maybe he should have been. Mona had set the bar a little too high for this next band – they were good, but not as good. Mona drove straight through 7 tunes and left the room wanting more. Mr. Baldwin ploughed through seven originals to close with a cover of Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life” that sounded like not all the players were in the same key or maybe even playing the same song and left us wanting July Talk, which I suppose was his job – so in hind-sight, well done.
Toronto’s July Talk came out in a haze of smoke starting their show with their latest radio play single – “Picturing Love” and worked their way through most of the tunes off their latest CD released in September of this year, as well as their previous releases saving “Touch” for their encore. As always, they are sexy and exciting and driven and driving and brilliant and fun and tight. The music is explosive and intense. Their total opposition in the two vocal styles and pitches makes for an amazing matched set between Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay. If you missed this show, they promised to be back soon, so do your best to see them then. Lead singer, Peter, made clear that his love for Calgary was deep and strong and credited SAIT & Gateway staff for making their first tour possible just a few years ago. So, you should get lots of chances to see them in the future. An absolute must-see band.
Johnny + Mary
Now I Know
Guns & Ammunition
Lola + Joseph
Beck + Call
Push + Pull
I’ve Rationed Well
Blood + Honey