The Gatsby is a strange spot for a rock show. Paintings of jazz trumpeters and the high-class clientele cast a top-hat-and-monocle-shaped shadow over the jean-clad rockers set to perform. Access to the show is limited to adults 21 and older, which makes July’s presence in the room somewhat awkward, given that guitarist James Perez is celebrating his 16th birthday. But social anxiety be damned — the members of July appear free of inhibition and unperturbed.
July finally takes the stage around 11:30 p.m. Their first song, “Ready,” a rocking romp through teenage sexual escapades, begins with vocalist Jason Harari singing and playing guitar unaccompanied by the rest of the band. The song picks up quickly, becoming more of a prototypical modern radio-rock song, abandoning its earlier emotive quality. The opener is followed by “White Dress,” which is a little faster than the first song, giving bassist Alex Kosub all the more reason to dance around.
Next, “Texas,” July’s obligatory state song, presents a lyrical motif that has become prevalent among Lone Star bands. It seems like nearly every act in the state feels the need to remind us that they are, in fact, from here. I wish these bands would stop. It was OK when Lynyrd Skynyrd reminded us they’re from Alabama, but only because their location defined their genre. That’s not the case for July.
By the end of “Texas,” a few people had closed out their bar tabs and moved on. Unfortunately, they were walking out on the highlight of the show. The next three songs proved to be a showcase of the band’s real talent and mastery in the art of the ballad. “Sunsets” begins with drummer Kevin De Leon rolling lightly on the snare in almost haunting fashion, while Harari spins a young-love yarn, his vocals mutating into mournful cries. Harari’s vocals are quite powerful, and his lyrics are presented sincerely.
Harari then performs “8 Months at Sea” solo, which features one of his catchiest lines, “Hallelujah, she doesn’t want me anymore.” The lyric is then trumped by a few in closer “Eleven Eleven.” July chose the appropriate song to cap off the night, leaving the audience singing, “I’m chasing Manhattan from Houston to the Hudson for you.” These last three songs were thoroughly enjoyable and displayed depths of musicianship and lyrical prowess previous songs left unexplored. Ultimately, July is a young band with immense potential. If their upbeat tracks were nearly as good as their slower songs, they’d be a lock for one of the best bands in town.
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