Other Lives and Halloween, Alaska at the Entry, 02/09/12

Other Lives and Halloween, Alaska
7th St. Entry, Minneapolis
February 9, 2012

The music of Other Lives has such a classic, timeless quality to it that even the band's new songs sound instantly familiar. The Stillwater, Oklahoma quintet treated the sold-out Entry to a sweeping 65-minute set that featured three new numbers mixed in with nearly the entirety of their stately recent album, Tamer Animals. Other Lives' grand, solemn sound swelled gloriously inside the packed club, as the band's dexterous members gracefully switched from one instrument to the next (often in mid-song), giving each number a subtle flourish.

The local quartet Halloween, Alaska opened the night with a polished 45-minute set that boldly went from hazy electronica, to buoyant pop, and jangly post-punk, proving the talents of each member of the band. After a strong start, which featured the smooth bass lines of Bill Shaw and the transfixing rhythms of Dave King on "Dance By Accident," the band treated us to a churning, moody take on Portishead's "Machine Gun." Frontman James Diers revealed that the band has been "recording an album of covers," and if this stellar rendition was any indication, that will certainly be a record worth watching out for.

The nicely-paced set continued with stirring versions of "Champagne Downtown," "Empire Waist," and a slowly building version of "Des Moines." But it was their completely reworked version of "A New Stain," which really caught everyone's attention, as guitarist Jake Hanson really added a jaunty, upbeat kick to the song, turning it into an edgy rock number that was a clear highlight of their set. The packed house was clearly into it as well, and after thanking us profusely the band finished with a glorious version of "Hot Pink" which splendidly closed out their set.

There were a lot of instruments packed onto the Entry's tiny stage during Other Lives' set, and thankfully the band used each and every one of them in order to capture the proper mood and spirit of each specific number. They started strong and never looked back during their 14-song set, opening with intoxicating versions of "As I Lay My Head Down,""Dark Horse," and "Old Statues," which all sounded pristine in the small room. And while some bands take quite a bit of time between songs as the members switch from one instrument to another, Other Lives deftly went from one song to the next, often with atmospheric segues that smoothly led into the next number which contained elements of the instrumental tracks on Tamer Animals. 

The band seemed genuinely pleased to be playing to a sold-out crowd, as frontman Jesse Tabish repeatedly thanked the audience, "This is just fantastic. This means so much to us." And the songs clearly meant a lot to their fans as well, who mostly stood in rapt attention as their saturnine songs transported us elsewhere. After a strong triumvirate of "For 12," "Tamer Animals," and "Weather," the band treated us to a couple new tracks that will hopefully find their way onto their forthcoming record. "Great Sky" and "Take Us Alive" both had the rich, lived-in sound of Other Lives, but also represented a distinct but subtle shift towards a more melody-based sound, with "Great Sky" faintly reminiscent of CSNY's more robust numbers.

The main set closed with a rousing version of "Dust Bowl III," but the crowd and the band themselves clearly didn't want the night to end there. Tabish came out solo for a tender, piano-laden version of "Black Tables," the only track that was played from the band's self-titled debut. The rest of the group came out to join Tabish, as he told the crowd "We're going to play a few more for you since you were so kind to us. For those of you that know 'Dust Bowl III,' this is 'Dust Bowl II." And with that, we got our third new song of the evening, a haunting continuation of the vivid Dust Bowl story. After thanking the audience once again, Other Lives closed out the evening with a riveting cover of Leonard Cohen's "The Partisan," which built to a boisterous, emotional finish that powerfully brought the night to a close.

The band effusively thanked the crowd as they left the stage, genuinely still blown away by the supportive turn-out. But with a short headlining stint just underway before Other Lives begins their opening slot for Radiohead next month on their upcoming U.S. tour, why wouldn't the Entry be packed? This will certainly be the last time we will see them play such a small room for quite a while, and clearly no one wanted to miss it.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I was first introduced to Other Lives when they opened for the Rosebuds at UW-Madison's student union. Who wouldn't fall in love with the band while they were performing outdoors on the picturesque terrace on the edge of Lake Mendota on a glorious summer evening?

The Crowd: Packed with fans who all were there for the music.

Overheard In The Crowd: "You're great!" A sentiment everyone in the audience concurred with.

Random Notebook Dump: I can't wait to see Other Lives open up for Radiohead in Kansas City in March. They are certainly going to get themselves a whole bunch of new fans, and deservedly so. I can only hope that this tour eventually finds its way to the Twin Cities.


As I Lay My Head Down

Dark Horse

Old Statues



For 12

Tamer Animals


Great Sky (New)

Take Us Alive (New)

Dust Bowl III

Black Tables (Encore)

Dust Bowl II (New)(Encore)

The Partisan (Leonard Cohen)(Encore)

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