A little bit of California crept into The State Room for this year’s April 20 social holiday; and it seemed fitting that the stoner celebration fell on a Monday since lethargic things tend to congregate around each other for shared smiles, munchies and lazy evenings.
The San Francisco–based folk rock duo Two Gallants are a fantastic dynamo of rock thunder, and Salt Lake City was here to greet them with trimmed beards, ball caps and summer tank tops that hinted of seasons to come. The State Room attracts amazingly polite fans and even as they took shots, the patrons apologized to me for breaking conversation as they partook. The average person in attendance was very into music know-how and it was just super chatting with all of those persons who put up with my presence for a few questions. The casual eclectic crowd was extremely social but, according to Seth (The gentleman I was in line with) it was Jared the Giant Bartender who easily took the cake for “Most friendly” and “Most likely to kill the character you’ve been rooting for all season on Game of Thrones.” Jared served a mean house wine but other than that, I saw no other implication of foreboding behavior.
The opener for the evening was Blank Range, and this was their first date on the tour since joining it. Blank Range was from Nashville and you could have probably guessed that before they announced it. With tie-dyed shirts, holey jeans and the facial scruff of mountain men, they serenaded the similarly appareled crowd with a healthy mix of Southern rock and just plain rock. Every member of the band could sing and harmonize and at several parts during their show they all even sang together. Their song “Roommate’s Girlfriend” was easily a crowd favorite and they even played a melody of several Paul McCartney songs, ending with “Band on the Run.” They played each of these songs so accurately that the Soundhound App on my phone could not tell the difference between them and the original recording.
Blank Range did an excellent job of getting the crowd into concert mode and even though only a handful of people clapped as they came on, everyone in attendance clapped as they left. The State Room’s sound system was solid, though it was nothing fancy and that was refreshing, since I’ve run into sound issues at every show so far this concert season. All around me, the crowd was engaged with each other and, for a Monday, I was really surprised at the turnout. The lights dimmed and about half of those in attendance crowded the stage. Two Gallants came out onstage with a quick greeting, and then the drumming started.
Nothing can prepare you for the energy and emotion that flies from these two performers. It’s almost like watching the quiet kid from high school get in front of the class and sing “La Bohème.” My mind was blown and those around me elbowed each other sharing their surprise. Their albums do them little justice compared what you witness live.
Two Gallants sound like The Black Keys, White Stripes and Manchester Orchestra had a three-way baby in a universe were Chevelle is god. Each song they played showed some extent of what they could do and from blues to metal, nothing seemed out of their range. Early on in their set, they played “My Love Won’t Wait,” which was a raw explosion of inner turmoil—and the catalyst that finally got the crowd screeching along. Between songs, drummer Tyson Vogel would politely chide the crowd and guitarist/vocalist Adam Stephens would dip into his guitar bag of goodies and tune away until the next rock anthem was ready to go.
The crowd down front had some headbanging going on and that put on smile on my face that went all the way back to my Beavis and Butthead days. With much of modern pop culture being described as precious and whimsical, it was a giant relief to see emotion and attitude stick its banging head out. Two Gallants rocked the holy fuck out of The State Room on a Monday surrounded by stoners—that is something separate even from just an awesome show. Two Gallants humbly changed the game up for future concerts. The quiet kid finally stuck his ass out and Salt Lake City happily slapped the shit out of it.
For the last song of the night, Stephens and Vogel hopped down in the audience and played with everyone huddled in around them. It was a sweet moment to close out a much heavier night. They wished us all well and hopped behind the stage. The audience trickled out, the lights came back on and all was well in the world of rock.