Leaving it all on the table: A night with Del Water Gap

photo by Olivia Sigunick

Article by Olivia Sigunick

With the first snowfall of the season, Del Water Gap hit the stage at Metro Chicago on October 31, 2023. Their electric energy filled up two floors of excited fans on the edge of their seats waiting for the band to join the crowd.

Their opener was an artist with a familiar, yet fresh sound, Kristiane. Her angelic melodramatic voice mixed with a low guitar in the background provided a warm and inviting energy in the room. The fans were lulled into a sway while Kristine played songs from her album released in 2021, I Miss Myself, sometimes. She also played her newest single “Sleep Through the Fire which was released just this past year. Her music was reminiscent of artists like Chloe Moriondo and Samia with that recognizable twinge of a delicate melody.

This mellow crowd was quickly brought to life when Del Water Gap stepped on stage. They opened with “NFU,” a single off their new album I Miss You Already + I Haven’t Left Yet. Del Water Gap, also known as Samuel Holden Jaffe, was joined on stage by drummer Ross Hodgkinson, guitarist Nick Cianci, and bassist Zach Esposito. The four musicians brought a mania of stage presence.

In particular, Jaffe and Cianci’s chemistry was electric, yet inviting. The feeling in the room was, we are all friends here. Del Water Gap gave all the energy they had to the audience in front of them. They left everything on the table.

This show, of course, took place on Halloween. The day before the show, the band posted on Instagram asking for people in attendance to dress up as something food-related. When they arrived on stage, they were all dressed as chefs. There was a certain peculiarity about everyone being dressed up that brought the audience together.

The crowd was as ecstatic to be there as they were. Their youthful yet raw sound came alive particularly when they played older music. Jaffe talked about how, after his music took off, one of the first places he performed was Schubas Tavern in LakeView, Chicago. He expressed that “every time I come back here it feels like a little bit of a homecoming”.

Jaffe gave the impression of pure sincerity. Through the words he spoke, but more importantly, through the music he sang. He went back to his roots on stage by singing “Chastain,” a single that was released back in 2019 before he “blew up”.

Jaffe got his start at NYU, the same time as Maggie Rogers. For a time, Rogers was even in a band with Jaffe. When they parted ways to each have solo ventures, Jaffe created Del Water Gap, and the rest is history.

His pure joy and passion for the music he makes come across so clearly in every word he sings. He comes on stage ready to leave his whole heart there and does so whilst allowing others to do the same. His honesty with the audience is what makes him such a captivating artist to watch. Even with your eyes closed, you could feel his stage presence and his devotion to his music.

He fills a room with joy and fun and spirit for music that is intoxicating. He jumps around the stage from song to song singing about his life, the good and the bad parts, and it’s near impossible to take your eyes off him.

Follow Del Water Gap on Instagram and check out his Spotify below!

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