CMJ 2011: Alberta Cross + Givers + Portugal. The Man.
Givers was formed just a few years ago at the University of New Orleans and hail from Lafayette, Louisiana. Yet it's easy to see why the band Givers has a loyal following with only one full length release.
The Brooklyn-based band Alberta Cross began the party at Terminal 5 with their alt rock take on country and blues. Put together about five years ago by Peter Ericson Stakee (vocals, guitar) and Terry Wolfers (bass), they are seasoned performers that bring this quintet to a respected level on the scene. Stakee’s voice has an international hint, referencing his childhood in Sweden and England traveling around with his singer/songwriter father, but the themes of the music are universal. Stakee peppered the set with "thank yous" while singing about getting money for the weekend and even offering up a gospel song. Soaring choruses dropped out for guitar solos or percussive breaks, with deep grooves of emotion. While nothing seemed particularly new, their viewpoint is certainly strong and they have musical chops to pull it off.
Givers was formed just a few years ago at the University of New Orleans and hail from Lafayette, Louisiana. Yet it is easy to see why the band Givers has a loyal following with only one full length release, In Light (and that appeared only in June). Their youthful exuberance, combined with serious musicianship, brought a homespun spin to indie pop songs throughout the set. Tiffany Lamson (vocals, percussion) and Taylor Quarisco (vocals, guitar) led the charge with their adorable stage presence befitting their names. There were lots of shout outs to their fans as they chugged through their energetically charged music. The rawness in Lamson’s voice resonated with the fans during her solos, even while she fixed a wayward cymbal mid-song. Givers turned the scene at Terminal 5 into an outdoor festival and with lots of vowels for lyrics, it was easy to join in the fun. The band ended with an elongated version of their fast paced single, "Up Up Up". Lamson let the crowd know before they left the stage, "We’re Givers -- we’ll see you’all again soon!"
The five members of Portugal. The Man. took to the stage with musicians playing violin and cello to begin with the epic "So American", off their new album In the Mountain In the Cloud. They presented their take on psych rock with majestic pride as this latest release has gained the greatest traction for the group from Portland, Washington. Other new songs provided the highlights throughout the evening, "Head Is a Flame (Cool With It)", "Floating (Time Isn’t Working My Side)", and "All Your Light", ending the set with "Senseless" plus "Sleep Forever". The band mixed things up with older tunes ("Work All Day", "1989/Your Way") and covers from the Beatles’ "Helter Skelter" to David Bowie’s "All the Young Dudes". The vintage tunes added a vantage point for their compositions, while never detracting from the task at hand. White orbs connected by black piping filled areas around the amps and instruments, changing colors along with the light show. The band projected great chemistry for each other and their fans, although occasionally the dry ice machine seemed to be on hyper speed, engulfing them in obscurity. Singer/songwriter John Gourley admitted to the crowd that when the large venue was booked he thought, "No fucking way." He sincerely thanked the audience for "believing in them." The encore began with Gourley’s sweet, soulful falsetto on solo guitar for "Created" which morphed into another cover, "Don’t Look Back In Anger", by Oasis. They returned to their own original and emotive music with "Guns and Dogs", then the powerful jam of "Chicago" to call it a night.