Louisiana’s sparkle-brained jam-squad Givers are assembled in the Bowery Ballroom’s main dressing room, overlooking NYC’s Lower East Side. But the talk is of home turf as they rattle through their stamping ground’s local food-related festivals. “There’s the craw fish festival, that’s the big one,” drawls drummer Kirby, knowingly. “There’s the cattle festival, and the strawberry festival” offers bassist Josh.
“The omelette festival, the frog festival, the cracklin festival,” joins in singer/percussionist Tiff.
Yes, that’s right, they even have a pork scratching festival in Louisiana. Round them parts, they like celebrating food – or rather, they just like celebrating.
And while you’d be hard-pressed to identify a passion for sweaty pork snacks in Givers’ tunes, there’s no shortage of celebration there. Tonight, the five-piece play to a jammed throng with the kind of limitless intuition that comes with years of jazz training – most of the band did stints at New Orleans music college – and an unquenchable thirst for joyous zoned-out abandon.
It’s not easy pinning down the roots of their post-pop racket,so ringleader Taylor helps us out, explaining “I was the only white guy in a Zydeco band for a while.” Zydeco’s a sound that’s native to Louisiana, developing out of local Creole culture with influences from gospel, blues, jazz and cajun folk musi, which has its roots in Canada. Their home state’s distinct cultural melting pot powers Givers, both stylistically and in spirit.
“As soon as we started touring we realised what a special place we grew up in,” explains Tiff. “The vibe is just so relaxed and sincere. I don’t know a single person in Louisiana that doesn’t love music. Music’s more like food there.”
So music’s like food, but they throw festivals for the grub? Go figure. “People live to love their family and celebrate life in Louisiana,” says the band’s tousle-haired frontman. “We’re just trying to offer up as big a slice of that as we can, every night.”
Need To Know
Based: Lafayette, Louisiana
For Fans Of: Vampire Weekend, Flaming Lips
Buy It: ‘Up Up Up’ is available to download now, while debut album ‘In Light’ is released in the UK in October
In The UK: They tour here throughout August, kicking off in Dublin and London this week
Believe It Or Not: Tiff has invented her own genre of music, called ‘Swell Rock’. Apparently, it sounds like “Sigur Ros on Grits”
This article originally appeared in the August 6th issue of NME