Givers at The Trunk Space, 6/4/11


Trunk Space
Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's not hard to tell when you've just watched a young, buzzworthy band perform. They usually thank the crowd for coming out -- regardless of how big it is -- while perhaps mentioning that it is the band's first time in a particular town. Such was the case for Lafayette, Louisiana indie pop quartet Givers last night. Multiple times throughout their breezy, uptempo set, both singer/guitarist Taylor Guarisco and singer/percussionist Tiffany Lamson thanked the Trunk Space crowd for coming out, as well as enlightening everyone to the fact that this was their first time in Phoenix. You'd think, with their childlike exuberance, that Givers were an unsigned band, still fighting to make a name for themselves -- not a band whose debut album was just featured on NPR Music and who has a set lined up at next weekend's Bonnaroo Music Festival.

Thank god Givers aren't jaded from all of their recent exposure. It's the band attitude, I think, towards their music that keeps them motivated and having fun. Givers' sound is heavily dominated by thumping, rhythmic Afro-beat drums -- displayed in fine form by their first song of the night, "Saw You First." The song has a pounding, rising drum beat, met beautifully by Guarisco's enthusiastic vocals. If ever there was a young man who enjoys doing what he does, playing his music -- and had the perfect knack for showing everyone just how much he enjoys playing said music -- it is Givers' lead singer Taylor Guarisco. Coiffed with a Jerry Lee Lewis-esque floppy curl, Guarisco was the band's definitive focal point, often sticking his tongue out, closing his eyes and distorting his facial expressions -- all to simply enjoy what he does. Once the initial shock of seeing Guarisco making a Bill Cosby pudding face while strumming away on his acoustic guitar wore off, it was rather delightful to see him entertain the crowd.

​Any one Givers song can instantly breakdown into what sounds like three different songs all rolled up into one. Case in point: the infectious "Meantime." 30 seconds into the song comes the first tempo change -- all the more punctuated by the band while performing it live -- while it yet again turns into another distinct segment. Then the song returns back to its opening riff as if nothing had happened -- like the band didn't just break things down three times in the span of about two minutes. It's remarkable to see live, especially given the band's incredible energy. That energy translated to me feeling that, on a few separate occasions, either drummer Kirby Campbell or singer/percussionist Tiffany Lamson were going to rip right through their respective drum heads with their forceful-yet-joyous drum striking.

​Givers' modus operandi, given last night's performance, has to be energy. I walked away from their set overwhelmed by the band's passion and exuberance towards their music -- a music that facilitates such enthusiasm. Givers put on a show last night that made me forget -- if just for a little while -- that they are, in fact, a band teetering oh-so closely on the brink of really breaking through. The members of the band understand the accolades that they have accumulated at this point in their careers, a reward of sorts for that being their Bonnaroo set. Yet they didn't let any of that notoriety or new found fame get in the way of their passion -- playing adrenalized, fast-paced indie pop music.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Givers at The Trunk Space.

Personal Bias: I caught wind of Givers about two weeks ago, heard their song "Up Up Up" and was immediately hooked. I also wrote a piece about NPR Music streaming their debut album In Light.

The Crowd: A rather young crowd, full of those who were getting their dance on to Givers' music.

Overheard: "It's special to be here," -- Lead singer Taylor Guarisco, yet again, reminding everyone how excited and thankful they were to be playing Phoenix.

Random Notebook Dump: "Lead singer Jerry Lee Lewis curl -- Bill Cosby face" referencing just what it is to watch Taylor Guarisco perform. "Xylophone -- heart is bleeding" to help me remember that they played "Ceiling of Plankton." I don't quite have all their song titles memorized just this yet.

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