After leaving their wonderful hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana earlier this month, the curiosity surrounding GIVERS’ new material was palpable at the Exit/In this past Tuesday, October 21st . GIVERS has not released anything since their exuberant debut album, In Light, came on the scene in 2011. After years of tinkering away at this new material, the indie-pop band did not fail in giving something new for the many longtime fans in the audience.
Before GIVERS took the stage, Kind Cousin gave exactly what is needed for an opening act. They complemented GIVERS, while providing enough variety to keep the night interesting. Just as GIVERS features female vocalist Tiffany Lamson, Kind Cousin was fronted by vocalist/guitarist Allison Bohl DeHart. Lamson’s distinct voice is easily characterized by its warm raspiness, but DeHart’s crystal clear singing was quite different in the way it seemed to pierce through the instrumentals backing her up. The performance was intimate and dreamy, with a sense of longing for the music of the 1960s. A beautiful juxtaposition of nostalgia and innovation, Kind Cousin was on a different part of the indie-pop spectrum than GIVERS and made the evening that much more interesting.
Seeing GIVERS take the stage was like meeting your innocent little cousin after a few years, and realizing he is not the same chubby elementary school kid anymore. They took the stage illuminated by a grungy red light to the soundtrack of a pulsing electronic beat, ditching the jaunty afro-beat that was so characteristic of their earlier work. The intro did break into a more familiar GIVERS feel, but the overall texture of the song was a step in a different direction than In Light.
In Light was somewhat polarizing, in that some people found the upbeat album to be more of an uncomfortable sugar-rush. Others would argue that the jovial atmosphere of In Light was the perfect way to cheer you up on your worse day. Judging from the new songs that GIVERS performed in this show, I do not think this dichotomy will persist into the next album, which frontman Taylor Guarisco hinted at will be dropped sometime next year. Often being compared to indie giants Vampire Weekend and Dirty Projectors, I got a sense of less Vampire Weekend and more Dirty Projectors with the newer works. There was a greater emphasis on synth beats and sections with ambient vocals backing instrumental grooves. The change for Arcade Fire from 2004’s hit “Wake Up” to the overall vibe and musical instrumentation in 2013’s Reflektor is a somewhat analogous to the changes I heard with GIVERS. This wasn’t a Reflektor remake, however, and there were a few songs that stand out distinctly from something you would hear on the Arcade Fire album. In particular, the closer for the concert, entitled “Record High, Record Low” wouldn’t fit the Reflektor mold. It is a few shades less exuberant than “Up Up Up”, but the catchy, sing-along chorus (“Record High! / Record Low!”) and the powerhouse vocals of Tiffany Lamson will be something to look out for in the future.
As far as their older work, GIVERS did dust off a few songs from In Light, including the eponymous single “In Light”, “Atlantic”, “Ceiling of Plankton”, and their encore “Up Up Up” just to name a few. Some songs, such as “Ceiling of Plankton” and “Up Up Up”, have been around since the release of their EP in 2009, so the old songs were very familiar to the audience mouthing the lyrics in every corner of the room. Their was nothing particularly different about the execution of the old songs, with the hallmark energetic beats, cute lyrical interplay of Taylor Guarisco and Tiffany Lamson, and clean guitar melodies. However, between several of the songs the band would break down into these extended instrumental interludes, which is where I would get the Reflektor feel the most. It will be interesting to see how much of these interludes make it onto the actual songs, because they did provide a different side of GIVERS.
Overall it was an interesting concert for those that were familiar with GIVERS and for those that were seeing them live for the first time. They just started their current tour and have not officially released anything yet, so the new works will still probably develop and grow as time goes on. But based on the little taste I got Tuesday night, it will be very interesting to see what new directions GIVERS will take with the album.