Photos and Words by: Julian Vu
Givers have played this town like what, five times or so? Even still, it seems like every time they play, they put on their big kid shoes, shower the audience with gratitude, and try and make a phenomenally gigantic sound come out of their amps. Each time they play, the passion and sounds seems to intensify, which for a young band that’s played DC so much is nice to see.
This isn’t the first time that a BYT reviewer will tell you that Givers is a band that often draws comparisons (for better or for worse) to Dirty Projectors.
True: both bands utilize graceland-style african guitar, syncopated bass, and even heavy tom work that’s light on snare. Let’s not discount the near-scream singing that is sometimes present in lead Taylor Guarisco’s vocal work. That’s about where the comparisons stop. Givers’ Tiffany Lampson is really where the power lies.
The girl has a voice more sultry than Coffman or Demadoorean, and even more unique or interesting than Dave Longstreth’s already complex voice. It’s not to say that Guarisco isn’t worth listening to, it’s just a matter of preference, and if you heard this girl’s voice, you’d know what I mean. Guarisco even stated throughout the set: “That’s Tiffany Lampson, y’all. She’s a badass bitch.”
Taking Lampson and Guarisco out of the picture, all three other bandmates more than make up the rest of the equation. While drummer Kirby Campbell maintained a straight face throughout the entire set, I must admit I’ve never seen a drum platform shake as much as he shook his that night.
While the drumming is less pronounced than Dirty Projectors, it certainly danced the fine line between african polyrhythms, and straightforward anthemic drumming. I’m gonna stop right here before I go on making this entire review a comparison between Givers and the Dirty Projectors. It’s not like that at all. There seems to be a lot riding on this young, but clearly talented crew of musicians.
Having signed to Glassnote (same label as Phoenix), there’s clearly some level of expectations for Givers to be the next big thing. Lucky for you, every time they’ve played town, they treat it like it’s all new, and despite their endearment being a bit predictable, you can at least tell that they’re having fun, and so is the crowd, as the very packed Black Cat seemed to enjoy the set.
Opening the night were Givers’ friends from Lafayette, LA; the cleverly titled “Imagine I am.” Certainly an even younger bunch of musicians, definitely with talents all to their own, however marred collectively by an attempt to be something they were not. Hopefully the pictures will do the talking, because I admittedly spent most of this set downstairs at the bar.
I made my way back upstairs for second openers, Lord Huron. Like many openers, they tend to start weak, work their way up to enjoyable and even borderline great music, and then find some way to lose my interest. Lord Huron had the elements of a good band, and even an interesting one to watch. Anyone who plays a bass uke is cool in my book. Other musical elements were there such as dominant singing, very well pronounced guitars (one, a tele on neck-pickup with slapback, the other a Guild Starfire that put out an even sweeter texas tone). Both were integral in crafting the nearly african sounding songs that I admittedly did not hate.
But then it hit me. On the second to last song, the melody line sounded exactly like the hook to “I just can’t wait to be king” from the beloved childhood film, The Lion King. Almost instantly my interest in this band was halved, and while I stuck it out, I think the bad taste of the nearly broadway/90’s sounding soundtrack music started to grate on me. In any event, Lord Huron was fun to watch, possibly even listen to, but it got old after a little while.