When you first hear Other Lives music, you might think they emerged straight from the woods of the northwest with all of their folky and orchestral tendencies, but in actuality, they’re just a couple friends hailing from Stillwater, Oklahoma, a town of 45,000.
In the past couple months, Other Lives has been high on my list of newly discovered music. They’ve got a big full orchestral sound, remnant of Bon Iver’s self-titled album, and the folk leanings of Fleet Foxes.
You can certainly hear that fullness on their latest album Tamer Animals, but seeing it played out live is an entirely different experience.
I had the privilege of seeing them earlier this week at The Gramophone, a venue here in St. Louis that has a capacity of about 200-300. A lot of the time when I go to smaller shows such as this one, it’s not for a band I’m absolutely in love with yet, but this time around I was very familiar with their music and got to stand about three feet away from the band as they unravelled their tunes one by one. Seeing bands live usually doesn’t get much better than that in my opinion.
Most bands have just one multi-instrumentalist, or that “one guy” who plays everything, while the rest stick with their guitar or the drums, but everyone played at least two instruments. Jenny, their [mainly] cello player pulled out clappers at one point, antlers with bells attached, played the xylophone, among other things, and throughout the show other band members played trumpets, guitars, violins, bells, a timpani, lap steel guitar, bass guitar, several keyboards, harmonica…you name it and it was probably there.
When a band has such a large inventory of instruments, I think it really allows them to make a fuller sound and more complex sounds as well. Although they have a fairly traditional indie band feel, there were many times I felt as though I was watching a conductor direct his orchestra. Jesse would queue the drums, or the cymbal clash, motioning everyone with his hands and making mini hand gestures at the moment the sounds came in. It certainly solidified the cohesiveness of the band, and although Jesse brings most of the central ideas to the table and acts as “director” for the band, it’s so very evident that Other Lives is a very collaborative effort, with each band member contributing their ideas.
These friends who originally just got together to jam in a small town in Oklahoma are now out headling on their own, and will soon be on tour opening for Radiohead to sold-out stadiums throughout the United States in March. If this isn’t any indication of how incredible they are, I’m not quite sure what is.
Here’s a short clip I took during the show of their song “Dust Bowl lll”.
Fun Fact: Jesse Tabish used to be a member of The All-American Rejects. We should all rejoice in the fact that he dropped out of that endeavor and went on to bigger and better things with Other Lives.