Besides ripped jeans and leather jackets, what item of clothing is most seen on live rock and alternative music stages? Probably Dr. Martens boots.

Doc Martens can be found on the stomping grounds of all genres of music, though they were originally a staple of the British punk scene. It’s only fitting that the company would not only sponsor national tours for up-and-coming bands, but also put on free in-store performances. Last Monday at Boston’s Doc Martens store on Newbury Street, July Talk and Little Hurricane kicked off their tour together.

This in-store event had a mellow vibe, featuring stripped-down versions of both bands’ songs, which must have been a treat for fans who have only witnessed the full force of these songs. The set-up was simple: the instruments and sound system were set up in one corner of the store, surrounded by boots of all colors and styles along the walls. The crowd wavered between twenty and thirty people, with the occasional odd customer staying back after shopping to enjoy the music.

Little Hurricane played first, with only an electric guitar, a minimal drum set, and a melodica. Celeste Spina’s drum set was unconventional, consisting only of a snare drum, two cymbals, and – the best part – an antique suitcase in place of a traditional kick drum. During every other song, however, the drum set was ditched altogether in favor of a pair of petite bongo drums, which Spina playfully tapped to create a playful beat. Lead vocalist and guitarist Anthony Catalano displayed impressive artistry with his complex plucking and classically gritty blues voice. Occasionally, Spina would chime in with some backing vocals. The melodica made an appearance on the last song, played by Spina and closing the half-hour set on a more quirky note.

July Talk’s set also featured stripped-down songs with minimal instruments, although their music was a bit darker in mood. Vocalist and pianist Peter Dreimanis, his facial expression and deep voice reminiscent of a horror movie villain throughout the performance, walked around chatting with the crowd only minutes before. The other vocalist, Leah Faye, who excelled in her funny stage banter, was saying that she used to work in a shoe store and proceeded to play sales associate between songs. “Sorry, we don’t carry half sizes,” she joked in a deadpan voice. During their last few songs, Dreimanis and Faye upped the entertainment value by spreading out into the audience and serenading each other from their stools, taking advantage of the lack of stage. Although the venue was small and unconventional, July Talk did an excellent job filling it with good energy and great tunes.

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