May 7, 2010
Louisiana band GIVERS returned to the Black Cat for the third time in their brief career Friday night, this time as the headliner on the main stage. The opening band, DC-based Stripmall Ballads, brought some Southern twang to the show, getting the crowd going with their solid Americana music. They played a tight set, but their country rock was only enough to drag some of the crowd away from the bar. As GIVERS took the stage, the crowd packed in and got ready for what was sure to be an exciting evening.
As usual, GIVERS came out with a whole lot of chocolate-induced energy (see interview for details), and got the crowd moving along with them right from the opening song, “Sneaky.” After the exciting opener, they played “Saw You First” and “Meantime," off of their debut EP, as much of the crowd danced and sang along. The rest of their set contained about seven more songs from their upcoming debut album, with standouts including “Noche Nada” and “Words,” and the remaining two songs from their EP. There was a clear Dirty Projectors influence in their sound, with guitar riffs that could have been straight from “Bitte Orca” and even some brief hocketing between singers Lamson and Guarisco. GIVERS also played a song that female lead singer Teddy Lamson had written just a couple weeks prior, which they had never rehearsed, but their improvisation came together quite well, a testament to their talent as musicians. They closed with an aberration from their typical style, turning the distortion up to 10 and rocking out with a head-banger called “Wanna Want It,” demonstrating their versatility. Finally, they answered the crowd’s plea for “one more song” with “Ceiling of Plankton.”
This was my second time seeing GIVERS, and they have proven to be one of the most fun live acts I have seen. They bring so much energy to every show that it’s impossible not to want to jump around with joy along with them. GIVERS use a whole arsenal of instruments, and everything from Dirty Projector-esque guitar riffs, psychedelic synth lines, tambourines, and ukuleles add an interesting layer to their songs. Yet, they don’t get lost in these complex sounds, mainly because of the strong rhythm section driven by Kirby Campbell’s drums, Josh LeBlanc’s bass, and Lamson’s percussion. The rhythm, with elements of afro-beat, keeps the songs moving forward in a danceable and compelling direction. With influences ranging from the Dirty Projectors and Animal Collective, to jazz, to afro-beat, the GIVERS’ sound is a unique and dynamic amalgam of these styles that is catchy upon first listen and layered enough to remain interesting after many.
Although the music itself is enough reason to love GIVERS, they are also great people with a whole lot of love and joy to, well, give. At one point in the show, an enthusiastic fan yelled out, “We worship you as gods,” and lead singer Taylor Guarisco replied, “We worship you guys as gods, too.” This kind of mutual adoration seems rare today, but GIVERS truly appreciate their fans and just people in general. And if you see GIVERS, you will undoubtedly appreciate them, and their music, and the unbridled joy they bring to everyone around. When you hear their music, it is not just a pleasing sound, it is a feeling; it brings energy, motivation, inspiration and an urge to celebrate the life we have.
Check out GIVERS' EP on Myspace for some great summer jamzz and get ready for their debut album due out late summer/early fall.(opening band, DC-based Stripmall Ballads)
-- Jared Iversen, "Jive Talkin'"