Photos by Merideth C. & review by Dave G.
Canadian acts Sam Roberts Band and special guests July Talk made the trip across the border to Detroit to rock “The Sound of Spring” concert event, put on by 89x and The River. I don’t always write about opening acts, but I would be remiss to ignore the marvelous July Talk. The Toronto, ON group consist of guitarist and co-lead vocalist Peter Dreimanis, co-lead vocalist Leah Fay, guitarist Ian Docherty, bassist Josh Warburton, and drummer Danny Miles. I haven’t been so impressed and surprised by a new (to me) band in a long time. Their sound is hard to neatly define; it mixes elements of Blues, Indie Rock, Americana, Punk, and others. The most delightful part of the mix is the vocals. Dreimanis bring an extremely rough and gravely sound that reminds me a lot of Tom Waits, though a bit smoother. In contrast, Fay stuns with her small, delicate voice that sometimes suddenly burst strongly out of nowhere. In harmony the two are magical. On stage, the whole band exudes energy and theatricality. I can’t recommend this band more.
By the time Sam Roberts Band took the stage, the crowd was fully engaged. The crowd was in a dancing mood and by the 3rd song there weren’t many people on the floor who weren’t dancing. Sam Roberts Band has a sound that just grooves and flows seamlessly from song to song. Consisting of Sam Roberts (lead vocals, guitar), Dave Nugent (lead guitar), Eric Fares (keyboard, guitar), James Hall (bass), Josh Trager (drums), and Chet Doxas (horns), the Montreal, QC band knows their material and plays with precision. This was the definition of a straightforward, no-frills, rock-and-roll set. They played a good mix of older favorites like show closer “Don't Walk Away Eileen,” “Brother Down,” and “Detroit ‘67” and dancier songs from their new album “Lo-Fantasy” like show opener “Shapeshifter” and “Human Heat.” Sam Roberts Band is definitely one of the more underrated bands out there who seems to be very popular in Canada, but haven’t been able to make the same impact in the US, a lot like Our Lady Peace in their earlier years.
These two bands were a great combination and made for a really great night in Detroit. I highly recommend that you check out both of these bands if you haven’t had the chance to hear them or see them live. They are well worth your time!