All too rarely in life, do we encounter surpassed expectations. When was the last time somebody really wowed you, went well beyond any reasonable bar you had set? When those moments come, it’s best not to speak. No need to jinx an otherwise blissful experience. It’s best to stay quiet and soak that pure satisfaction deep within, for however brief a time it may last.
Surpassed expectations were offered up in spades in the bowels of the Old National Centre last night. Deluxe, the latest addition to the historic Indianapolis venue, played host to a basement party that won’t be forgotten by attendees any time in the near future. Established Philadelphia outfit Dr. Dog offered the crowd a relentless set of songs that spanned the best of the band’s six LP’s. The evening was as much a celebration of 2008 breakthrough Fate as the newer material.
Up-and-coming indie act GIVERS brought the room to a sizzle early in the evening. The Laffayette, Louisiana natives played a high energy set, driven by bombastic rhythms and the magnetic appeal of singers Tiffany Lamson and Taylor Guarisco. The band delivered upon the strength of their 2011 debut In Light. Lamson rotated her duties between ukelele, percussion and vocals – adding textures at every step. Guarisco’s play on guitar, though spastic, was more impressive than I had expected, playing with a speed and agility influenced as much by afrobeat as indie rock. Unfortunately, the strings were largely drowned out by the drums, my lone complaint from the opener. By the time the band left the stage, the pulse of the room had quickened and a growing crowd of listeners had converted to fans.
Philly’s finest, Dr. Dog, hit the stage shortly thereafter with a couple dozen balloons in tow, signaling the start of their traveling party. And a party it was. Rather than force feed the audience a setlist of tracks from their latest effort Be the Void, Dr. Dog provided fans with a history lesson. They rolled through a non-stop stream of highlights that underscored the strength of the band’s formidable catalog. The audience repaid the gesture with raucous applause, sweat-drenched dancing and informed call and response throughout.
I lost count of the number of songs, but it had to approach 20 or more. Dr. Dog kicked things off with a few tracks from Be the Void, with the audience chiming in loudly during the blues driven “Lonesome” and bouncy “That Old Black Hole.” The band never glanced back. Personal highlights included lead guitarist Scott McMicken’s signature squeal on “The Rabbit, The Bat and The Reindeer”, “Unbearable Why”, and “Do the Trick.” Bassist Toby Leaman carried his share of the vocal load, offering up memorable moments on “Shame, Shame”, “Hang On” and new track “Vampire.”
In reality, missteps were hard to come by. The set, though loud and a bit muddled at times, was solid top to bottom. Though Dr. Dog covered the gamut, the strength of their catalog speaks to the fact that there were still a few missing tracks that I would have loved to hear. Most notably, the omission of new single “How Long Must I Wait?”. But you won’t hear any complaints from me. I would go back to Deluxe tonight and start the whole thing over again.
Written by Rob Peoni
Tonight, GIVERS will hit Indianapolis as support for Dr. Dog. The two bands will take the stage at Deluxe, a new venue within The Old National Centre. Yesterday, GIVERS released a video featuring some footage from their current tour. The video, that you can find below, has been cleverly edited to mimic the legendary intro to television’s The Wonder Years. Take a trip down memory lane to the land of Kevin Arnold and Whinnie Cooper.
Tonight’s show is one of my most anticipated of the spring. Dr. Dog’s new album Be the Void kicks some serious ass. It has been a few since I have seen Philly’s finest, and am expecting big things. GIVERS debut release was one that I latched on to in 2011 (See: Review). We were offered ample live footage from a variety of video blogs last year, which leads me to believe that they will be even better in person. There are still tickets available for tonight’s show. Grab yours via MOKB Presents. This ain’t one you will want to miss.
Written by Rob Peoni
Full confession, I am a fairly recent convert to the indie music scene. I have always been a music junkie, but I didn’t delve deep into this genre until about a year and a half ago. I was spoon fed on sixties folk rock and classic soul: Crosby Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel, Beach Boys, Motown and The Staples Singers. Not a shabby start.
By the time I began to listen for myself I had moved toward the jammier side of the post 90s rock scene. That path led to retracing their influences down through funk, blues, southern roots and traditional music. Along that path I developed a strong appreciation for jazz and improvisation—particularly that of the New Orleans region.
For the last year or two, my palate has enjoyed the taste of rigid, three-minute music that The Strokes helped to spawn a decade ago. There is a beauty that lies in that simplicity and raw emotion. So long as an organic aspect remains in there somewhere, a natural or primal sound, I’m typically a listener. One thing I have missed though, is that aspect of improvisation, an interplay between planned and unplanned.
Enter Laffayette, Louisiana’s Givers, and their debut LP In Light from Glassnote Records. No songs under four minutes. I find myself returning to this album as often as any 2011 release. Though I find the disc a touch over-produced, read—it sounds too good at certain points. Any worries of whether or not Givers would hold up to the live litmus test swiftly vanished after viewing their recent Tiny Desk Concert via NPR Music:
In Light is pure fun. As evidenced in the above video, these kids can sing. Vocalists Tiffany Lamson and Taylor Guarisco compliment each other flawlessly. “Meantime,” the first track from the Tiny Desk performance plays quite differently on the album. Their song features a guitar solo that will have traditional indie fans yawning. But the video proves how effective the track becomes after watching them pour their hearts out for the NPR staff.
Givers has drawn comparisons to Vampire Weekend and other Afrobeat-influenced acts. And the release is much heavier on percussion and powerful drums than this performance indicates. However, if anyone comes to mind for me, it’s actually Rusted Root. A tighter, more serious and worlds more talented Rusted Root.
Their live show is most assuredly going to have the crowd’s feet shuffling. If this video does not do justice to any of the band’s strengths, it’s that it short sells the fact that much of the album would play just as well in a dance club as a jam band festival. That’s why I think Givers will be a hit for as long as they stay together. They play to the core emotion of too many differing audiences to fail.