Flickering light bulbs and a five-piece mini orchestra crowded the small yet intimate Electric Owl stage on Friday. These multi-instrumental savants known to the rest of the world as Other Lives collectively filled the room with an atmospheric magic that was larger than life.
The foundation of Other Lives’ music is primarily made up of piano, guitar, drums, and bass just like any other rock band. Yet, this does not define them.
The incredibly complex orchestral arrangements call for trumpet and violin, which Jon Mooney quite seamlessly jumps back and forth from as he plucks away at an electric guitar and piano – cello and backing vocals from the stunning Jenny Hsu, Colby Owens on clarinet and percussion and Josh Onstott who digs into the bass and furthers the percussive overture.
Front man Jesse Tabish rings out his political and romantic jubilations while swinging his guitar over his shoulder and dancing around his many keyboards.
Calling out to the audience in his somber yet inviting tone, Tabish performed songs from their self-titled sophomore album Other Lives, Tamer Animals, and a few new songs from the newly released EP Mind the Gap. Their new single Take Us Alive begins with a driving violin riff, timpani shots, electronic percussion, and a swooning Tabish repeating the words “keep your eyes open/ keep your eyes open” as he declares that they’ll never take them alive.
Their performance was exhilarating as smoke filled the stage and the rising and falling melodies of a symphonic dialogue between instruments ensued. Songs like For 12 with their ethereal soundscape and the intimate ballad of Black Tables which Tabish performed alone as his encore, made this unique performance a night to remember.
Over the last year, Other Lives has been opening for English heavy weights, Radiohead as they performed across the US in their 2012 King of Limbs tour… so a small and intimate performance for a very responsive Vancouver audience was quite the treat.
After the show I bumped into Josh Onstott and he commented that the band might be moving to Portland. Hopefully, their new home just down south makes for more frequent visits to Vancouver.
If you happened to miss this one and want to check out a band that really shouldn’t be playing small venues (not that I’m complaining), keep your eyes open for upcoming performances in the area once they’ve finished up the rest of their tour dates out east and are all settled in to their new digs.