For years, the Jericho Tavern has been lauded as an integral venue to the Oxford and British music scene with such great acts as Radiohead, Foals and Stornoway starting out here. Recently the venue has branched out and has begun championing new, foreign acts such as Braids, Cults, Nathaniel Rateliff and Alessi’s Ark all of whom have played in the last few months. Other Lives are the latest band to venture across the pond to Oxford’s dreaming spires. With such musical geniuses as Thom Yorke and Wayne Coyne blogging about the Stillwater, Oklahoma based quintet their headline slot this evening has been truly deserved and lead to the date being one to count down to on my calendar.
Support came from the local two-piece, Beta Blocker And The Body Clock who could easily have been mistaken for coming from the West Coast of America due to both their sound and attire. Their energetic mix of garage rock, punk rock and surf rock drew strong comparisons with the likes of Real Estate, Crystal Stilts and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (who they’re supported). The Horrors and the Smith Westerns both explored this genre with their debuts before progressing to a tighter and more produced sound, a change which I feel would aid BBATBC’s music career immeasurably.
After the support set I sat myself down, with pint in hand to experience one of the most surreal moments of my life. As Beach House’s Magical Teen Dream could be heard over the speakers, in walked the Oxfordian Royalty of Jack from Fixers as well as Thom, Colin and Phil from Radiohead who proceeded to sit opposite the life-sized mural of themselves on the venue wall.
With the handful of gig goers buzzing with excitement, Other Lives took to the stage. I had just met Thom Yorke so for me this evening couldn’t get any better…how wrong I was.
The band quickly, yet carefully made their way through tracks of their new album Tamer Animals before taking their first break. Jesse’s astonishing vocals reduced the crowd to speechlessness while Jenny’s soothing cello caressed our ears. Each members pure talent was obvious through the endemic multi instrumentalism which saw Jesse and Jonathan tackling six different instruments apiece over the course of the set. ‘Dark Horse’s trumpet refrain was exquisitely performed as where the strings on the slow burning ‘For 12’. ‘Tamer Animals’ saw the piano making its stand with Colby’s percussion acting as the tracks backbone. For ‘Black Tables’ we saw a culmination of beautifully arranged piano, ethereal strings and Jesse’s ever impressive vocals adding up to another knockout blow for the audience who’s minds were being blown by this incredible performance.
Jesse downed his instruments at one point to thank the audience for the attendance, adding “this is the part where I hate myself”. Thankfully this feeling wasn’t echoed throughout, his ability to maintain his humble and shy nature despite being in possession of such unrivaled talent was truly inspiring. Robin Pecknold, eat your heart out! The reigns were again taken up by Jesse on ‘Dust Bowl III’ which saw him finger-pick his way into everyone’s hearts while orchestral soundscapes were being produced on strange looking instruments.
My only criticism of the evening was the briefness of their set, clocking in at around 45 minutes not a single person wanted it to end that soon. Also the turnout was quite poor with only around 30 in the room, but this made the evening all the more special,
I genuinely challenge you to name me a band out there today making such astounding music yet remaining delightful people. Other Lives are returning to Oxford sometime this Autumn and if I have to get down on my knees to beg you to come, I will. Other Lives are pure and simply great music made by great people, what more do you want?