July Talk prepares for drive-in concerts in July Talk Love Lives Here

Hot Docs 2023: July Talk — Love Lives Here Review

As the pandemic struck, many musicians struggled with out how to promote new music when all tours were understandably cancelled. After all, in-person events were no longer possible and, unless you lived together, you couldn’t even see your bandmates. The Canadian indie rock band July Talk was just as affected as their fellow artists by this conundrum. After two highly successful albums, their third record, Pray For It, was scheduled to come out in July of 2020.

After some discussion, July Talk saw an opportunity to do something unique. They decided to put on concerts at a Drive-In theatre. This would allow them to perform live to people stationed in cars, listening to the show via radio as they remained within their own bubbles. Deciding to book the Stardust Drive-In, located in Sharon, Ontario (approximately 40 minutes north of Toronto), the band readied themselves to play two shows in the midst of lockdown in August 2020.

This cinematic look back was especially interesting to me, given that I attended the first date of the two-night stand and wrote about it

First-time director Brittany Farhat covers all of the behind-the-scenes planning and resulting execution. We see the band conceptualizing the stage set up, then rehearsing, and finally performing the shows, with interviews interspersed to give insight into the whole show. It’s all delivered via black and white photography, in keeping with the band’s aesthetic for the album cycle. 


Love Lives Here also uses plenty of archival footage of the band to help get any newbie audience members up to date on their music. We see early performances, and watch as July Talk slowly graduates to larger and larger venues with stories mostly from co-fronters Leah Fay Goldstein and Peter Dreimanis as they craft their own mythology. 

Between the interviews, old concert footage, executing the Drive-In concert, and with plenty of other insights into the bands beliefs, the film often feels like it is trying to cram in too much to too little time. We get an extended period of time where the band discusses their politics and manifesto, which results in their wanting to give their back-up vocalists more time in the spotlight. Contrast this with Dreimanis learning he has been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and figuring out how it will affect his life moving forward, with a Covid scare from one of the other members that threatens to derail the show and you wonder if the documentary could have been a bit more focused. 

The band has always been famous for their live-wire concerts, where Goldstein and Dreimanis get so aggressively into their performances that they look like a fight will break out at any moment. Witnessing the evolution of their live shows is fascinating, but we don’t get enough footage of the headlining event: the drive-in show. We see the band rehearsing songs but as it transitions into the actual performance, we’re shown only a handful of tracks.

Love Lives Here allows hard-core fans to see some backstage footage and the band’s process for working, but it doesn’t offer enough for casual listeners or people unfamiliar with their work to stand out as a truly great music documentary.


July Talk: Love Lives Here screened during Hot Docs 2023.