Live: Other Lives
By Joe Goggins
30th October 2011
The Deaf Institute
2008 saw the emergence of a number of artists who brought the concept of the indie-folk crossover firmly back into fashion; Fleet Foxes, Devendra Banhart, Bon Iver and Grizzly Bear, to name a few. Fast forward to 2011, and suddenly ‘indie-folk’ is less an ethereal blend of chiming guitars and soaring harmonies and more a phrase used to describe privately-educated rich boys making offensively bland pop songs that are apparently ‘folk’ purely on the basis of the wearing of flat caps and waistcoasts and the occasional smattering of utterly arbitrary banjo. The totally mystifying success of Mumford and Sons is a genuine tragedy, and thus it’s nice to see a band more in line with the aforementioned American artists making waves again.
Other Lives hail from Stillwater, Oklahoma and rock up at the Deaf Institute tonight with pretty much everything going for them; off the back of a North American tour supporting Bon Iver and with a host of positive reviews for sophomore LP Tamer Animals under their belts. Arriving twenty minutes late to a stage bedecked with suitably sinister decorations – on the eve of Halloween – it’s difficult to discern what the band have more of – instruments or facial hair. The first song alone sees one member of the brilliantly-bearded quintet play electric guitar, violin and trumpet in quick succession, before simultaneously banging a floor tom and playing the xylophone in a stunning display of multi-tasking musicianship. Unfortunately, it’s this wide sonic palette that’s ultimately proves to be the group’s live downfall; with so much going on, a number of instruments get lost in a mire of guitars, not least frontman Jesse Tabish’s yearning vocals. The songs are certainly there, but, so far, frustratingly, a convincing way to deliver them live isn’t.