August 16, 2010

Adam Haworth Stephens is phenomenal live

Adam H Stephens 030

Five months ago, my friend Katie went to see Adam Haworth Stephens (of the San Francisco band Two Gallants) open for Rocky Votolato in Denver. I wasn’t at the show, but was on my computer later that night when an email popped in from her, raving about how amazing the opening act was. I could almost feel her glowing through the internet wires from excitement at this young man and his piercing music.

With her permission, I turned that email into a post about Adam. He’s been tearing up the touring circuit, wearing down the asphalt all across the US in the last few months, and last Thursday he finally came back through Denver, and I was there waiting with ready ears.

He was, in a word, phenomenally kinetic live. His well-crafted songs from an older acoustic EP sprouted muscles and all sorts of complex shading with the full band backing. The drummer was fantastic, and I pounded my hand against my thigh for almost the whole set. Their badass female bassist threw down solid basslines to anchor the melodies, and Adam sang with howl and conviction. The songs were riveting.

My charming British friend Paul asked me after the set what I was going to write about the show, why I couldn’t stop smiling, why I loved it so much. I told him I felt like I was watching a special artist. NME wrote that Adam “shares the same spirit as a young, reckless Johnny Cash, or a pre-electric Bob Dylan.” To that I would add a most obvious comparison to a twenty-something Neil Young, and of course the youthful intelligence of Conor Oberst (whose Nebraska label Saddle Creek is releasing Adam’s debut solo album). Those are all lofty comparisons. I felt he merited them.

lbj-153You can download the first song off his new album We Live On Cliffs (out 9/28) for free on his website in exchange for an email address:

STREAM: The Cities That You’ve Burned

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

He announced at the end of his set, “I’m Adam Haworth Stephens, and, uh, we don’t have any music for sale tonight.” You could hear a groan ripple through the audience. If you’ve seen him live and were won over like we all were, perhaps this out-of-print Vile Affections EP can help tide you over until Sept 28th when the full-length is released. I’ve been listening to this EP a lot lately. If these songs show up on the debut album, it will be so interesting to see how they’ve filled out.

Lead In Our Lungs
The Heights of Diamond
Bitter Angel
The Miles We’ve Marched
Your Weight
Going To Germany
Twitch and Tremble in the Breeze (bonus)


I also hope the new album has this song is on it — it was one of my favorites live:

Second Mind (live at The Independent in SF) – Adam H. Stephens

Adam just announced a tour with The Felice Brothers (“Frankie’s Gun” is still a song of theirs I never ever tire of, and this duet with Conor Oberst makes me deeply happy), which is a superb pairing. I adore The Felice Brothers. GO SEE ONE OF THESE SHOWS.


*w/ Blitzen Trapper*
Aug 17 – Spaceland, Los Angeles, CA
Aug 18 – Crepe Place, Santa Cruz, CA

*Headlining show*
Oct 2 – The Independent, San Francisco, CA

*w/ The Felice Brothers*
Oct 5 – Doug Fir, Portland, OR
Oct 6 – Tractor, Seattle, WA
Oct 7 – Media Club, Vancouver, BC
Oct 9 – State Room, Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 10 – Larimer Lounge, Denver, CO
Oct 12 – Waiting Room, Omaha, NE
Oct 13 – Triple Rock, Minneapolis, MN
Oct 14 – Turner Hall, Milwaukee, WI
Oct 15 – Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL
Oct 16 – Magic Stick, Detroit, MI
Oct 18 – Mr. Smalls, Pittsburgh, PA
Oct 19 – 123 Pleasant Street, Morgantown, WV
Oct 21 – Capitol Theatre, York, PA
Oct 22 – Rock and Roll Hotel, Washington, DC
Oct 23 – Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia, PA
Oct 28 – Harper’s Ferry, Boston, MA
Oct 29 – Met Café, Providence, RI
Oct 30 – The Chance, Poughkeepsie, NY
Oct 31 – MHOW, Brooklyn, NY
Nov 1 – Daniel Street, Milford, CT
Nov 3 – Jefferson Theatre, Charlottesville, VA
Nov 4 – King’s Barcade, Raleigh, NC
Nov 5 – The Handlebar, Greenville, SC
Nov 6 – The Earl, Atlanta, GA
Nov 8 – The Social, Orlando, FL
Nov 9 – Club Downunder, Tallahassee, FL
Nov 10 – One Eyed Jack’s, New Orleans, LA
Nov 12 – Emo’s, Austin, TX
Nov 13 – The Loft, Dallas, TX
Nov 14 – Sticky Fingerz, Little Rock, AR
Nov 15 – Proud Larry’s, Oxford, MS
Nov 17 – Headliners, Louisville, KY
Nov 18 – Southgate House, Newport, KY
Nov 19 – The Rumba Café, Columbus, OH

[other photos from the concert last week are on the Fuel/Friends Facebook page]

Tagged with , .


  • Well, he’s amazing. Thanks for an intro to yet another phenomenal artist. I hope to see him in DC!

    And speaking of intros to amazing artists, I discovered Joe Pug on your site/from Paste, and I saw him in a tiny venue here in DC a few weeks ago. He was as talented live as I expected from your posts.

    Mallory — August 17, 2010 @ 7:40 am

  • I remember Two Gallants for two very different reasons. First, their songs were extremely good and they did a lot with just two guys playing. I enjoyed it a lot and I always thought they should be bigger. However, the second reason I remember them is not so good and might explain why they weren’t bigger. When I was in college they were touring and made a stop at a small dump of a place in Iowa City (it was a dump, but it was great for small bands). Anyways, it was like 10 bucks to get in (which when you’re in college is a ton of money to see a small band). Anyways, they showed up like an hour or more late and then played no more than 3 or 4 songs and packed up their gear and left. It was pretty shocking and depressing and always left a sour taste in my mouth with regard to them.

    Anyways, I can’t wait to get home and listen to this. Despite the bad experience with Two Gallants I always do enjoy when I hear their songs pop up randomly on my iPod. Thanks for passing this along.

    Adam — August 17, 2010 @ 10:20 am

  • Reading that over, I love the word anyways. I need to expand my vocabulary for new transition words. Ha.

    Adam — August 17, 2010 @ 10:21 am

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jennifer McGaffey, Eversilences. Eversilences said: Adam Haworth Stephens is phenomenal live: Five months ago, my friend Katie went to see Adam Haworth … (fuelfriends) [...]

    Tweets that mention Adam Haworth Stephens is phenomenal live | Fuel/Friends Music Blog -- — August 17, 2010 @ 9:38 pm

  • “phenomenally kinetic” is two words.


    Harold — August 19, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

  • I saw Two Gallants three times and loved them each time. I always thought they should be a lot bigger and talk them up to everyone I know. However, from what I recall, they didn’t get much written about them on the blogosphere other than about their getting tased in Austin. I’m still hoping that their hiatus isn’t permanent. In the meantime I downloaded the single from Adam’s site the other day and thought it was really interesting and liked the full band behind him. Unfortunately for me, he’s not coming to my hometown on this next tour.

    brian s. — August 19, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

  • No solo es FENOMENAL en directo, es Terriblemente conmovedor escuharlos en directo, hablo de su etapa TWO GALLANTS, deseo ansiosamente su vuelta por España y disfrutar de su nuevo y exquisito trabajo, saludos desde Andalucia.

    Indalo — October 24, 2010 @ 5:46 am

  • it’s too bad the album is so produced – i like the raw EP so much more. thanks for sharing it with the world. i’d like to see Adam live again, but not as much as i’d like to see both Gallants together

    joe — October 29, 2010 @ 2:47 am

  • I have to agree with Joe – the EP was rawer and so intimate. Its like acoustic Velvets.

    Why did he pocket the harmonica for We Live On Cliffs? I’ve never been a harmonica fan in any way shape or form, but the harmonica playing on Vile Affections changed that!

    tincanman2010 — November 2, 2010 @ 3:19 pm

  • he’s taken off Neil Young’s jeans and put a hole in ‘em. Adam’s the best & godbless,i’ve been saying that since sf 2001 and i hope i always will.

    ben — December 15, 2010 @ 5:31 am

  • Hey you guys,
    I know this post is pretty outdated, but I am desperately looking for the vile affections EP!
    Could someone help me out where/how to get it?

    Steve — October 5, 2019 @ 11:16 am

Comments RSS

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →