The San Francisco pop-folk duo Two Gallants played to a sold-out crowd on April 23, at its familiar stomping grounds, Bottom of The Hill. It was a reunion show of sorts. Two and a half years had passed since Adam Stephens (lead vocals/guitar/harmonica) and Tyson Vogel (drums/vocals) played together. In the interim, Stephens went by his full name, Adam Haworth Stephens, when gigging solo, and Vogel played guitar under the moniker Devotionals. While those endeavors were undoubtedly strong, they didn’t match Stephens’ and Vogel’s musical synergy as a duo.
Following Portland, Ore.’s The Bad Backs and Los Angeles’ Rumspringa, Stephens and Vogel took the stage to chants of “Two Gallants! Two Gallants!” and roaring applause. The duo both sported new ‘dos: a longer, feathered look for Stephens, and shorter locks for Vogel.
As Stephens began to play, a (possibly drunk) woman got on stage, standing with her back to the crowd, and danced to the first measures of “Dyin’ Crapshooter’s Blues.” Thankfully, she was escorted off by security seconds later. During this song, and throughout the show, Stephens turned to Vogel in between verses and got down on his knees while playing his cherry-red electric guitar. The set list was written on the top of his left hand in black Sharpie ink. Vogel’s chin-length hair became drenched in sweat during his frenetic yet controlled drumming over the course of the night.
Two Gallants, “Steady Rollin’”:
Stephens’ voice was as gorgeously sandpaper-coarse as ever as he rasped, replete with torment, “You must have seen me ‘neath the pool hall lights/ Well, baby I go back each night/ If you got a throat/ I got a knife…Death’s comin’/ I’m still runnin’.” Nearly all of the crowd knew “Steady Rollin’” by heart, singing along to the point of almost drowning out Stephens’ amplified vocals.
Two Gallants played songs from its entire catalog, from its self-titled 2007 album on Saddle Creek to its first proper release, 2004’s The Throes. Its second and last encore song, “My Baby’s Gone,” seemed very fitting for the concert’s end. “Now my wave breaks down on me/ Whole world seems out to sound me,” Stephens sang. “I’ll drown, no one to show me/ Can’t swim, I lost my floaty.”
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