Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
It seems as if the winter months, when we're trying to do as little as possible because of the elements and a frostier than we'd like studio, produce the best stories of perseverance and fortitude of young and hungry bands. The winter around here makes it very obviously, very quickly, who wants it most and how important that next show is to them. It reveals the pangs in a belly and the day that GIVERS came to Rock Island in early February was one that could test the mettle of even the most determined person around. It was during the overnight hours the previous evening when Mother Nature gave the Midwest another middle finger in the form of a thick and slow-moving band of the white stuff, suffocating us all in something like 10 inches of flakes to go on top of the feet we already had. Dr. Dog and the Growlers, two bands GIVERS were going to be opening for in Cleveland the following night, were driving from the west - Omaha to be exact - to get here for a performance, encountering interstate closures and sketchy conditions the whole way. GIVERS, a young band from Lafayette, Louisiana, that combines a Capri-Sun, good-time summer feeling, some sneaky reggae grooves, the youthful exuberance of Ra Ra Riot and a sing-along sentiment that gets into you immediately, had even more ugliness to cut through to get here for a 9 a.m. session that day. They drove in from the east, having spent the past week inside the eye of what New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. weaklings were calling the Snowpocalypse and proceeding to buy grocery store shelves down to the crumbs. They drove through the conditions, pulling a big and clunky horse trailer, the van driving by one of the main singers' sister, who works on a horse farm and is used to driving the big animals around the country in the thing. On ice and snow, this cannot be easy, making for a white-knuckled day and night. Even while here, the outside conditions just got worse and worse, the snowflakes getting heavier and denser as they plotted out their travel attack to still make the next show in Cleveland. All kinds of calls were made to three different states' worth of Department of Transportations only to continue getting worse and worse information. They were prepared to just stick it out for the night, and then haul the next day. We're guessing they were early, likely with bright, shining faces and sweatshirts with wolves and hawks on them.
The music of GIVERS is steeped in this kind of attitude, of not getting chapped about little things or whatever cannot be controlled. There is an excitement that all five members have in what they're doing at the very moment that you encounter them that's contagious and you start believing that they're mighty conquerors, capable of nearly anything imaginable or unimaginable. There is positivity to GIVERS hooks - huge positivity - and you hear everything sung in explosive exalt, brightly delivered by five young people who know no other way to be. There is glee, overwhelming glee, in the songs on the bands only release - a short, self-titled EP - and it makes you feel as if time is on your side. It makes you feel as if you are somehow in control of how any of this shit is going to work out, in the end. They sing, "Don't get stuck in the meantime/There's no such thing as the meantime/It comes, it goes/It washes away," on their song "Meantime," and it seems to define carpe diem along with a brazen confidence that terrible driving conditions won't throw you and your horse trailer full of musical instruments, not to mention your van full of fragile people, into harm's way. It will be fine and the same goes for you.