Landing an opening spot for Radiohead is probably a dream
that most bands have. And for one lucky band, that dream is actually
coming true. But that's not the show I'm talking about; rather the
evening in review was an intimate performance with the members of
Other Lives. From what I can tell this is only the second time
the band has played in Kansas City, at least under the current name.
But what I know is that it was just as special as the first.
Normally when a band has five members, most stages would offer adequate
room, however Other Lives travel a bit heavier. And so, packed in
a space no bigger than a bathroom were guitars, drums, pianos, a cello,
a clarinet, a bass, some horns, and - oh yeah - Jon Mooney,
Jenny Hsu, Jesse Tabish, Colby Owens, and Josh
Onstott. But to truly perform the Other Lives sound, you have
to have all those elements. Take "Dark Horse", when it came
up in the setlist, so did a horn and a violin. Instantly the room
was filled with warm soothing tones and drifting melodies. The drums
moved between rhythm beats and the clacking of sticks which gave it
all a bit of a two-step groove. Next, some Johnny Cash-style
guitar chords gave "For 12" a nice opening. Eventually a
beat so steady and quick, it hurried everyone along like horse hoofs
across the stage. But it was some longing strings that seemed to wrap
the other members in a silky cape. And together as one the band entranced
each person in that audience individually.
One talent this band has is the ability to take multiple sounds and
sew them together into a magnificent piece. "Weather" is
an excellent example of this. Elements of electronica were subtle
at times and yet powerful near the end. All the while the bulk of
the number was made up of intoxicating harmonies and the intricate
dance between a single key on the piano and a military percussion
beat. For three minutes and fifty seconds, all eyes were on the stage
and the insane people making those amazing sounds. "Dust Bowl
III" was a song that struck me to my core the first time I heard
it, so the anxiety to hear the song had been building all night. And
thus, as a closer for the normal set, my wish was granted. Vocals
so beautiful they were eerie were laid a top a guitar melody written
for the open plains on a windy day. There were so many elements to
this song on the album that it was incredible to see it performed
live. The strings created an overwhelming movement of sound pulsing
on and off the stage, each time taking us over, body and soul. When
the song met the ceiling, the breakthrough was a religious experience.
All previous parts were amplified and the tempo was kicked up to a
notch of steady gallop. Your mind was taken from the plains to the
West on the back of a wild horse, running off into the sunset and
throwing all caution to the wind. There were a few fans that night
that you could tell truly got this song and really let it sink in.
As the experience was so moving, a few tears might have been shed.
Ok, yes the acoustics of a large "Radiohead-sized" venue
might be better than the 200 person club we were in. But with the
honesty and beauty of the music the Other Lives has created, an intimate
performance is the way to go.
February 6th, 2012
Jackpot Saloon, Lawrence, KS
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