The indie-blues duo Two Gallants showcases complex and original folk ballads. The pair’s lyrics are at once confessional and cheeky (“If liquor’s a lover, you know I’m a whore”) and its songs are gritty, somber and (sometimes) uncomfortably sincere. New fans are often lured into its hypnotic live show by dense, emotionally naked songs. Two Gallants also has a witchy ability to enchant: Often when its set is over, the audience collectively wakes up and remembers to snap back to the normal concert-attending reality of getting a drink, taking a piss or talking to their friends. Two Gallants are opening for Les Claypool this time around, but we’d bet the next time they come through town they’ll be headlining.
San Francisco’s latest indie-blues phenomenon, Two Gallants, is a study in contrasts. Bandmates Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel, both only in their early twenties, perform with the passion of a full orchestra. Ballads might begin weighed down with heavy beats, only to suddenly lift and shift into the sparse skeleton of a folk song. And while melodic, bittersweet compositions are the hallmark of Two Gallants’ record company, Saddle Creek, the band’s sound is considerably closer to the Pogues than Bright Eyes. The lyrics on their newest album, What the Toll Tells, weave dark, whiskey-laced tales of heartbreak, jail and life on the road; the songs often draw comparisons to the early works of Johnny Cash. Live, Two Gallants play an emotionally dense set that is guaranteed to impress any listener with a little hurt in his heart or a little booze in his belly.