Two Gallants and Criteria play Bowery Ballroom - Oh My Rockness

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Two Gallants and Criteria play Bowery Ballroom

September 16, 2005
Once I was stranded on the pitch-black shores of Ireland's smallest island. I walked into the only open pub, and the needle scratched as the locals looked up. A few hours later, my gut was full of Guinness and I had new friends. Suddenly it was song time. Chairs were moved. Instruments were brandished. And one after another, my new friends sang some of the saddest, most poignant songs I had ever heard. Then they looked at me, my turn to sing a song of substance. I blanked, and blanked, and ended up singing The Star Spangled Banner.

If this ever happens again, I will be ready. My ace in the hole will be any song by Two Gallants. San Francisco's Two Gallants are one helluva band to see live precisely because you aren't quite sure what you're seeing. Is it alt-country? Is it garage-blues? Is it punk? Is it Irish folk? One thing you're sure of is that singer Adam Stephenson and drummer Tyson Vogel are almost disturbingly talented. The duo rhythmically duel with each other, creating both angry and heartfelt drunken tales that make you want to stomp your boot on the floor and raise your beer towards the skies. Stephenson's lyrics find inspiration in both Bob Dylan and James Joyce (the band's name was taken from Joyce's Dubliners). This music is poetry.

Criteria's Stephen Pedersen (ex-Cursive, The White Octave) is the SHIT. Not only did he sing and play all the instruments on one of the most exhilaratingly anthemic albums of 2003 (En Garde) but he also very recently left his high profile (and high paying) law job to sign with Saddle Creek, get a crew together (including members of Bright Eyes) and become a full-time touring indie rocker. To give up thousands in salary, and disregard the thousands in educational debt you already owe, takes a passion and commitment I envy. And it's a wise investment on Pederson's part.

If you haven't heard Criteria, you have missed out on many months of fist pumping and air guitar playing. They're just that kind of band. Think an even catchier version of Quicksand. Instantly likeable and completely contagious, this band has only one directive: to rock you way the fuck out. Awesome.

Two Gallants play Bowery Ballroom (w/ Criteria) & Club Exit tonight, Friday the 16th.


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