I hadn't been to The Ninth Ward for a show before and didn't know exactly how punctual they were with set times but I was starving and decided to get as quick a dinner as possible down the street at Merge. I was relieved when I got my table and saw the gentlemen of Two Gallants just placing their orders for dinner a few tables down... that way I could at least gauge how long I had to scarf down my food.
Last night was the first show of 2GS North American/European tour in support of their new album, The Bloom and the Blight (released on September 4th). No strangers to Buffalo, drummer Tyson Vogel quipped that the Ninth Ward was a little different setting than Mohawk Place [the venue they are usually playing at when in town] as he invited the crowd to "come closer and hang out with them".
The tell-tale syncopation between guitarist Adam Stephens and Vogel were in full effect from the get go as they would coordinate tempo changes and song endings with an unspoken communication that only comes after playing countless hours with one another, as they have over the decades.
My friend Jonathan described 2GS as if an "emo/indie rock band had a child with a country rock band and that child rebelled against its markedly uncool parents and basked in a life of pounding drums and finger-picking insanity" after their show in May. I still agree with that description after last night and feel that they are further blossoming into their own. The folky ballads were still present (and welcomed), but when they pumped up the volume they came across as heavier than I have heard them play before... a "classic" heavy, mind you (the song "Ride Away" off The Blight and the Bliss features some riffing reminiscent of Black Sabbath).
The prevalence of a harder rock song in some songs did not take away from the sincerity of the warble in Stephens' voice throughout each and every song. I found myself, on multiple occasions throughout the set, thinking to myself that the words and lines I could discern from the songs I wasn't familiar with made me want to go over to the merchandise table and buy all the albums I didn't own so I could read through all the lyrics and get the entire story of each character in each song. The lyrical styling deals with wholly believable characters, subjects and stories that I feel many could relate to.
It's not easy being a two-piece band and creating a sound that fills a room. 2GS has the ability and energy to do it on a nightly basis and I feel fortunate that Buffalo has made an impression on them such that they travel across the country to play here so often.
2GS will be playing at Lee's Palace in Toronto next Saturday, September 29th. They are entirely worth the drive if you haven't (even if you have) seen them before.