WVAU & UnCL – Del Water Gap – Renan Rocha


From flipping burgers in New York City to playing sold-out shows throughout North America and Europe, Del Water Gap, also known as S. Holden Jaffe, had his first London show this past week at the Camden Assembly Pub. The crowd, which sold out the show within 15 minutes, was electric, with everyone extremely excited to see Holden perform for the first time in London. Fans waited hours to see Samuel perform, all expressing the same sentiments of it being “worth it.”

Before the show started, I was waiting in the back of the crowd, right next to the backstage doors. The Camden Assembly was already filled up, waiting patiently for Holden to arrive. While waiting I felt a door open and someone popping behind my shoulder to look at the crowd. Not really thinking much of it, I quickly moved out of the way but soon realized it was Holden. 

He quickly looks at me and tells me “holy sh**! This crowd is insane,” to which I respond with “of course it is, it’s all for you.” At that moment I knew it would be a show that I was never going to forget.

Peter Xan, an emerging UK artist, opened the show with “Glow in the Dark,” “In the Morning,” and “Dopamine.” Xan’s opening both got the crowd hyped for Del Water Gap’s performance, and allowed a closer look into who Xan is. Being the opening act is sometimes a thankless job, but by leaning into his ability to hype up the crowd, Xan created a frenzied environment. After a few songs from recent projects, Xan got up to some of the crowd members asking for introductions and if they were excited to see Del Water Gap perform. During this section, every one of them screamed with excitement. After his last song, Xan started a chant saying, “when I say Del Water, you say Gap” “Del Water!” “Gap!” the crowd screamed and it kept going.

While the crowd waited for the main act, Holden’s team of band performers and set managers tested everything from microphones to the smoke machine. After 30 minutes and some excitement later, the song “Better Than I Know Myself” starts to faintly play to the crowd. The introduction is a lot longer for the live set, with Holden’s voice whispering to the crowd “Don’t you know me” and a loud bass hits the stage. Soon after, his bandmates hit the stage. As the buildup to Holden’s arrival crescendos, and the bandmates add their additions to the song, the backstage doors open wide open for Holden to jump on stage.

As the set begins, you could see Holden’s eyes widen as he realized that the sold-out crowd was singing along to the first song. At that moment he already felt the energy. There was not one point throughout the show that Holden lost his rhythm, the crowd was feeding off his energy as he bounced around the stage. After playing songs from both his self-titled debut album Del Water Gap, and from “Hurting Kind”, and “Sorry I am,” Holden quickly grabs his acoustic guitar and starts to say a few words to the crowd. His words became scrambled, it was the first moment he sounded completely vulnerable. After a couple of seconds of looking out into the crowd, Holden built up the words to say “thank you.” Following up with an apology because he couldn’t find the words at that very moment to express his extreme gratitude to the crowd. “Guys, thank you for everything. I don’t have the words right now but thank you.”

The introduction for Holden’s show really laid out how the rest of the night was going to feel. From the energetic crowd, to the songs everyone knew, Holden curated a setlist that hooked each member in the crowd from start to finish.

After, Holden played “Let’s Pretend” from his EP that he released in 2017, 1 (646) 943 2672. After playing the songs, “It’s Not Fair!” “Uh-huh” and “Bug Bites.” The highlight of this section  was a cover of Avril Lavigne’s song, “Complicated”, which had everyone singing word for word. Holden added “Complicated” to the set list after a cover of the song blew up online, also allowing him to take advantage of the opportunity to use his own Spotify Single.. An amazing song with an amazing crowd that knew all the lyrics. 

The crowd never lost their energy throughout the entire night. As he sang songs from his EP in 2016 “Don’t Get Dark” and then continued with other songs from his self titled, songs like “Distance” and “Alone Together” then returned to an older song of his, “High Tops” Holden had the crowd moving throughout the entire night. 

As the concert came to an end, he played “I Hope You Understand,” a rock-indie song with melodies that soothed the crowd as Holden sings to the crowd and jumps around during the chorus. Holden’s self-titled carries a lot of what he performs, energetic, indie-rock songs that hype the crowd up throughout the night, making a one-hour set of his seem to fly by. As he finishes the song, he then asks the crowd if they’re ready for this last one. The crowd screams with excitement, but with some concert goers disappointed that the set is ending so soon. An attendee even asked Holden as he was preparing for the next song if he would “come back tomorrow and do another show” to which he responded with- “Come back tomorrow? I wish.” 

Holden begins to play the guitar riff to one of the most popular songs “Perfume” and as this happens the crowd screams with excitement. He begins to sing through the crowd’s excitement, and as the chorus comes in, the crowd begins to sing along to the lyrics. It was a beautiful moment to see and experience. The crowd was jumping and singing along to the lyrics as Holden jumped around the stage to hype the crowd up more and more. Before the last chorus kicks in, he asks the crowd “alright London, are we ready for this?” to which he then, as the chorus drops and the crowd sings along, jumps off of the stage and begins to crowd surf. 

Holden is no stranger when it comes to crowd surfing, he’s done it numerous times throughout his time touring, and with his first time in London with a sold-out crowd, it was required. Holden surfed through the crowd and quickly realized he needed to make his exit towards the backstage doors. The crowd worked together in moving him across the venue where he was placed right back in front of the door and stepped away.

That however was not the end. The crowd began to erupt into demands for an encore, chanting to bring Holden back onto the stage for “one more song!” Some people even were chanting “ten more songs!” As the chants grew louder and louder, the tension began to build as more people waited for him to hit the stage again for his encore. After 5 or so minutes of chants, and the buildup and anticipation growing to its max, his bandmates hit the stage and began to warm the crowd up for Holden’s last song. 

Before he began to quickly began quickly thank the crowd for being there, how much gratitude he owed to them that he couldn’t put into words, and how a song he wrote about a girl he liked changed his life, it was “Ode to a Conversation Stuck in Your Throat.” Holden’s last song was one to remember. It was the song that many concert-goers and myself were introduced to who Del Water Gap was, and it was the song that brought Holden into the spotlight when it came to his music career. The crowd went insane. As he began to sing, every single person in the crowd was yelling out the lyrics word for word, even at points where Holden would point his microphone out to the crowd to sing along. The song quickly had the whole venue shaking as the crowd jumped and down during the chorus, and as more people began to scream the lyrics louder, and louder. The song had an impact on the crowd where it led them to feel nostalgia and carry a memory they’re never going to forget, and I believe that’s what Del Water Gap wanted everyone to feel during a show, something they’ll never forget.

The show was done at the Camden Assembly Pub in London, while I haven’t been to many venues in London personally, but the Camden Assembly Pub exceeded all expectations when it came to the space. There was a bar in the back of the venue, enough stage and for the crowd for a sold-out show, plus the staff was extremely kind and welcoming before the show began for concert-goers to quickly go inside and see their favorite artist. Other artists like Aries have performed at Camden before, and the space is just small enough for every artist that performs there to feel the intimacy of their fans in the crowd. The venue wasn’t huge for its size, the max amount of people were capped at 200. However, it was a good thing for many people that were just trying to enjoy the show, either from the back or the front and from the restaurant they offer right next to the venue, to the space they have outside for artists like Holden to say hello to their fans after the show. For a crowd that sold out in 30 minutes, the Camden Assembly felt like a great place to have a great performance.

You can catch Del Water Gap for the rest of his European tour which is happening until October 21st. Moving from Berlin, Hamburg, Copenhagen, and Stockholm to Oslo. To then tour with Girl in Red in Europe in April of next year. It has been an extremely successful year for Holden and Del Water Gap, and their momentum does not seem to be stopping anytime soon. Plus his stage drives, they’re here to stay. 

Stream Del Water Gap on all streaming platforms and watch a concert recap here!

This article is a collaborative article with WVAU and Under City Lights (Rare FM).

Edited by Eleanor White.