Reviews

What the Toll Tells

Author: Chris Hanaka
04/27/2006 | The Tripwire | www.thetripwire.com | Live Show Preview
Live - Two Gallants @ The Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 4/24/2006

For better or worse I have a tendency to categorize shows by the alcohol consumed before, during, and after-this is by no means an exact science, but more or less an a posteriori observation-for Two Gallants it was shots of whiskey and draughts of pilsner chasing tails all evening at Six Delancey.

Telling stories more in the vain of Dylan Thomas stumbling drunk up, down and around the Bowery than the author of the short story they take their name from, Two Gallants picked, stomped, and pounded through an equal mix of ten songs off both their latest album, What The Toll Tells, and their debut The Throes.

In more ways than not, a sold-out Bowery Ballroom is the perfect setting for catching this San Francisco band's live act. Construction on the historic venue was completed shortly before the 1929 stock market crash, and is their music and the stories told - constructed word by word - not those of another era altogether?

"Steady Rolling," which might be the second best song on What The Toll Tells, was the second song performed, and vocalist Adam Stephens received backing vocals from half the floor seconds into the opening lines "You might have seen me 'neath the pool hall lights/Well baby I go back each night/If you got a throat I got a knife."

A few songs later, and midway through their set, Stephens' introduction of "Long Summer Day" as "a song a lot of people probably don't want us playing," was interrupted by a drunkard's scream of "Fuck Pitchfork!"

This image alone hurts, but I guess some will do anything to prove their loyalty to a band. Look for it on YouTube.

The strength Two Gallants' reinterpretation of "Long Summer Day" seemed particularly fueled by those wishing not to hear it, with added emphasis on the lines, "Well what was I to say/The summer day makes a white man lazy/When I was about the age five/I watched my daddy burned alive/They cut him low and they hung him high/Swaying in the breeze," and commenced a five-song block of rock & roll and blues.

Beyond acknowledging the controversy created with Brian Howe's review of What The Toll Tells, there was very little artist-audience interaction other than drummer Tyson "The Octopus" Vogel (he has 8 arms) saying "We really, really thank you" (it's alive and it talks!).

Other highlights included "Nothing To You," another track performed off their acclaimed 2004 debut, and the final song of their latest album as well as their performance at The Bowery Ballroom, "Waves of Grain".

"Las Cruces Jail" was just inches short of Johnny Cash performing "25 Minutes To Go" at Folsom Prison but we already know that by now, what some don't know is that six months from now, maybe even twelve, opening act Cold War Kids will be widely regarded as a band capable of cranking out consistent rock shows of the same magnitude as a band like Arcade Fire. I may have mentioned this to the band before a caring coworker helped me home.
What the Toll Tells

What the Toll Tells

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