There aren’t many bands with singers like July Talk’s. The Juno Award-winning band’s sophomore album Touch continues to highlight the contrast between Leah Fay’s angelic voice and guitarist Peter Dremanis’s gruff and gravelly voice. And their timing couldn’t have been better: they played at DC9 on the same day that Justin Trudeau made a stop by the White House AND on DC9’s 13th birthday. It was a momentous day made even more momentous by an stellar performance from the Toronto band.
When we heard that Toronto’s Great Lake Swimmers would be playing with Montreal’s Patrick Watson at his Wednesday show at the 9:30 Club we were ecstatic, but also had some questions (beyond where in DC one might get poutine to get the evening started right). Was it a double bill? Was GLS opening for Watson, or vice versa?
Both bands are touring in support of stellar records – Watson’s Adventures in Your Own Backyard has been garnering rave reviews for it’s sparse, Antony and the Johnsons-esque minimalism and emphasis on mood. The Great Lake Swimmers’ most recent album, New Wild Everywhere is also a masterpiece, but eschews the spare quiet sound of their early records for fuller, more upbeat tunes. Thus the questions about the lineup; when GLS played in DC earlier this year they had the crowd bouncing and moving, cheering guitar and violin solos alike, and giving their best performance in the area to date. On the other hand, crowds at Watson’s shows are known to sit cross-legged on the floor in order to take in the lush soundscapes he and his band so effortlessly design. Would GLS get the crowd up and pumped only to have Watson chill them back out?
At the end of the day, either scenario is fine for this perfect end-of-the-summer Wednesday night show.