Any band that can cook up a whole tent-revival’s worth of down-home Southern-inspired racket the way that Two Gallants do onstage deserves the rapt attention of the audience. And these two country boys-by-way-of-San Francisco garnered due reverence from their New York throng at the Gramercy on Tuesday. It’s a religious experience they offer to the crowded house. Fans drift forward, reaching out for the light on the stage, and Adam Stevens’ voice leads them closer with its shrill aching and impassioned, almost-vibrato.
The quirk of Two Gallants’ music has always been the combination of two-man-band simplicity with the impressive fullness of the arpeggiated guitar and heavy splashes of cymbal. Live, the two stringy, sweating San Franciscans dragged their percussive songs through the wringer with extended versions that were unpredictable and occasionally off, but always captivating.
They pounded through sorrowful and unapologetic songs like “Despite What You’ve Been Told” from their new self-titled release, with Stevens’ harmonica wailing on “The Hand That Held You Down.” They returned to What the Toll Tells for few older songs, and skillful drummer Tyson Vogel kept the set in marching motion with his filled-out beats and crashes. When Two Gallants play live, any self-conscious Northwesterness they have on their records eventually melts away to reveal the real, sweat-soaked, t-shirted, lovelorn, eerie, finger-picked, intensity that makes their music so epic.–Lavinia Wright