California’s Two Gallants are a band that should’ve made a much bigger impact on the world than they have by now. For fans of the pair, tonight is a pretty big deal taking place in a pretty small venue, yet there couldn’t be a more ideal location for it.
The venue is full enough when we arrive that we are forced to stand on the sofas in the back corner near the sound desk in order to get a decent view of the band. They are met with a roar of cheers as they take to the stage and begin a blinding set that includes ‘My Love Won’t Wait’, ‘Despite What You’ve Been Told’ (with an extra-long instrumental ending) and ‘Steady Rollin’ early on.
Almost every song they play tonight is performed in a way that differs slightly from how it would normally sound on record, creating a feeling that even if you’ve heard the songs a million times before, they sound remarkably fresh and exciting.
They perform a cover of Tom Petty’s ‘A Thing About You’ which is slowed down and given their emotional, bluesy treatment before guitarist/vocalist Adam Stephens moves onto the piano keyboard and harmonica, whilst drummer/vocalist Tyson Vogel switches to acoustic guitar, and later tambourine, for a rendition of ‘Broken Eyes’.
They continue with ‘Crow Jane’ and ‘The Prodigal Son’ and so far every track has been incredibly well received by the crowd and we feel very privileged to be part of something so special and intimate. A completely insane drum solo alongside some noisey guitar feedback acts as a mesmerising interlude before they burst into fan-favourite ‘Las Cruces Jail’, with Adam even whistling the outro pitch-perfectly and having us question whether there is anything these guys can’t do brilliantly.
They finish on ‘Halcyon’, the opener from their most recent album, but then return with an encore of ‘Seems Like Home To Me’ and ‘Nothing To You’.
There is a great chemistry between the duo and they are both just fantastic musicians with very unique voices, Adam especially, whose vocals paint a picture of travelling the wild west on horseback whilst sipping fine bourbon (even when he’s a bearded thirty-something guy from San Francisco). We’ve also never heard a drummer who can play both as loudly and as quietly as Tyson does in one set.
The crowd seem just as familiar with their old material as they are with tracks from last year’s release. Considering there was a five year gap between ‘The Bloom And The Blight’ and their self-titled third album, it goes to show that Two Gallants are the kind of band that people stick with indefinitely. Likewise, if you’ve only heard them recently, you’ll be desperate to go back and hunt down all of their old material.
Every album is full of great songs of love, loss and exploration (both literally and mentally) and it feels like they could have played a set made up of entirely different songs tonight and it still would’ve gone down just as well. We’d by lying if we said we didn’t feel a little teary-eyed at certain points, and it looked as if a few others around us had the same response.
Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Saturday 20th July 2013
Words by Chris Biggs
Photos by Ashley Laurence