Having been one of the lucky minority that saw Oklahoma’s Other Lives last summer at the Jericho Tavern, I awaited this gig with much deserved anticipation. This evening the venue was almost at full capacity, a much more fitting level of support for a band of Other Lives’ caliber. When the band took to the stage they seemed much more self-assured and confident than I had previously experienced, an outcome that most likely came from their stint opening for Oxfordian stalwarts Radiohead on their American stadium tour. This confidence also came across through the music played as the set centred on the penetrating and incisive percussion of Colby and Josh. The band in general seemed to have undergone a Spinal Tap-esque transformation with everything being turned up to eleven adding an intense sense of purpose to the ever present levels of slow burning beauty.
The set itself took songs from their self-titled debut of 2009 and the more recently released Tamer Animals that came out towards the end of last year. There were also a small number of tracks I wasn’t familiar with prompting me to believe that this was new material however this could just have been the exposing of a chink in my insatiably obsessive, fan armory.
‘Black Tables’, ‘For 12’ and ‘Tamer Animals’ were particular triumphs however the sheer quality of the set as a whole made it difficult for individual tracks to stand out. A variety of weird and wonderful instruments were on display leading to members of Stornoway craning their necks to get a closer look. The level of instrumentalism was incredible and astounding and every other superlative under the sun, an enviable level that will make other bands jealous and will inevitably take them far.
Again, my only criticism can be the brevity of the set, yet, Jesse’s refusal to undertake a “clichéd” encore was laudable and also saved the crowd a wealth of inane clapping filtering the applause down to the dedicated and appreciative. Following the band’s second set in Oxford and a chat with the ever charming members, I can only hope that we, as gig goers have done enough to make them as excited to come back as we are to have them.
Photo by Amanda Hatfield – Other Lives @ Bowery Ballroom on 2/17