I knew I was in for a good night when I saw the lineup of this show: The great headliner, UK-based alt-rock band Nothing But Thieves
paired with an equally as great opener, Canadian rock band July Talk
. New York City's Irving Plaza was in for a treat, as they were hosting a night of kick ass voices with Peter Dreimanis' coarse howl, Leah Fay's not-so-innocent sting, and Conor Mason's out of control range.
Let's backtrack for a second. There was a band that warmed up the stage before July Talk and they go by the name of The Wrecks. I had no idea what to expect, but when I interviewed July Talk earlier in the day (which will be out in the near future), they vowed that this band was amazing, so I couldn't miss it. Needless to say, they were right. Towards the end of their set, they mentioned that this was their first time playing a show in New York and they had started the band eleven months ago. Only eleven months ago.
Not even a full year under their belt and they're already on a massive tour, which may sound weird, but when you see them do their thing during a live show, it suddenly makes sense. Lead singer Nick Anderson was not shy, he climbed everywhere and screamed at the crowd, completely making us forget the fact that this was the first act of the night. His voice was fit for rock music as he hit impressive high notes and projected chaotic energy.
July Talk took the stage next and I have to say, it was probably one of the most unique shows to take place in a while. Lead singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay have this odd tension between them that makes you feel super weird, almost uncomfortable
at times (but that's what good art is supposed to do, right?). Dreimanis couldn't keep his fingers out of Fay's hair for a second and she ate it up as she whipped out modern dance moves and crawled around the stage like an elegant spider. Unfortunately, they only had a half hour set, but they still managed to squeeze in a lot of their best songs from their recently released album Touch,
like "Push + Pull" and "Beck + Call." They closed out the set with the album's title track and Nothing But Thieves' very own Conor Mason made a surprise appearance to sing with the band. The crowd cheered with excitement as the song built more and more.
July Talk is one of the most interesting bands to watch right now. Although they are making rock music, they incorporate a lot of physical aspects to it, such as choreography and acting. When you listen to their music, especially live, your body has to react with movement. The music is already so dramatic, that when paired with their theatrical performance, the drama is overwhelmingly intensified.
Nothing But Thieves started the show with one of their biggest songs, "Itch." The moment they went into the chorus was explosive, completely blowing everyone away and commanding the crowd's attention within the first few seconds. After that, they immediately dove into another favorite, "Honey Whiskey." "I think I better go before I try something I might regret,"
Mason sings. Joe Langridge-Brown and Dominic Craik created a fluttery feel on the guitar and keys, making it look way easier than it actually was. James Price (drums) and Philip Blake (bass) worked together to create a thumping groove that hit you right in the chest. "Drawing Pins" was another highlight of the night with lots of soul and guitars hyped up on distortion. They extended the bridge, bringing it down quietly and then pumping it back up as Mason started emotionally screaming "What do I have to do / To be loved, loved by you?"
Mason also played the acoustic guitar on a few songs but not in a typical troubadour way -- instead, he incorporated it into the hard rock music, adding another dimension. We mostly heard his guitar on "Six Billion," after he introduced it with, "This is a new song added to the set, so we've only done it a couple of times. I'm also shit at the guitar." "Painkiller," "Excuse Me," and "If I Get High," were three more high-points in the set. "Painkiller" was a downright headbanger with fast-paced guitars and wildly aggressive vocals. "Excuse Me," the album opener, featured Mason singing with an anthemic falsetto throughout the entire chorus. "If I Get High" highlighted Mason's voice, as if it wasn't highlighted enough, and worked up to a beautiful build. Once again, flowing with no issue.
The band has been touring this album for about a year and a half now and the set is still fresh as ever... That's because everything about them is fresh and contains layers that offer something for everyone. Not
just lovers of rock 'n' roll. Mason's voice effortlessly reaches abnormal heights, dramatically belting out and then taking a sharp turn into a trembling falsetto. It's so similar to Jeff Buckley's natural roar that it's almost disturbing at times, for any appreciators of powerhouse vocalists. The music is heavy and dramatic for any hard rock lovers. The pop-structured choruses are catchy, powerful, and almost sensual at times, for any straight up pop music lovers. This is one of the most dynamic rock bands out there right now, with the ability to truly make you feel
emotion and discover something new with every listen, simply with the power of a voice, guitar, bass, and drums.
Also check out our exclusive interview with July Talk back at Brooklyn Bowl: