Jesse Tabish of Other Lives (All photos by Bebe Besch)
Inside The Tractor Tavern on Sunday night, audience members witnessed a phenomenal display of talented musicians. From Stillwater, OK, Other Lives took the stage to perform for a sold-out venue, inviting everyone to experience their “making it” performance. After touring with Bon Iver, Other Lives quickly acquired a larger fan base in the West Coast region, but were wary of how many people would show up for their debut headlining show in Seattle. Lead singer, keyboardist and guitarist Jesse Tabish said, “We were worried no one would come.” He continued as he and his band mates laughed at the confession, “It’s the truth.” The turnout showed that support for Other Lives in the Pacific Northwest is strong, and their bold and sincere display at the Tractor Tavern stage simply dazzled loyal spectators.
The humble band deserves their newfound adoration, as they produce a fantastic live sound. With many songs on their carefully crafted albums, including their recent release, Tamer Animals, Other Lives filled the Tractor Tavern with enchanting progressive folk. The luxuriance found in their live set is incomparable because each band member acts as more than one; everyone in Other Lives is a multi-instrumentalist. Along with Jesse Tabish, band members focus their energy on numerous tasks like Colby Owens on both drums and clarinet, & Josh Onstott on bass guitar, organ, kettle drum, and backing vocals. Jenny Hsu’s elegance transcends through backing vocals, xylophone, cello, and violin, all while alternating with her handmade percussion instrument: antlers adorned with yarn and bells. Stage left there was also Jonathon Mooney – a pleasure to watch, Mooney tackled his own xylophones, keys, violin, guitar, trumpet and backing vocals. Occasionally Mooney would run the bow from his violin across the edges of his xylophone, adding stylish elements to Other Lives’ already rich sound.
Together, the five-piece harmoniously melded. All of their separate parts were executed with ease as their set developed. Between their vibrant songs, they wisely slowed the pace with some intimate songs like Tabish’s solo performance of “Black Tables,” their charming song that he said was heavily influenced by the soundtrack of The Goonies. Continuing this playful side, for the beginning of their encore Other Lives had the audience join in a singalong as they tried playing “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” by The Ramones for one of the first times live. The balance between their songs is the same aspect that makes Other Lives so fascinating; distinguishing them from other experimental acts is this balance, and magical as it might seem, their musical balance was strategically constructed and has now begun to reward the band with the same devoted attention they’ve put into their songs and live performances.
Starting out the night sharp at 8PM was singer/songwriter JBM, also know as Jesse Marchant from Montreal. He brought his typically accompanied acoustic tunes to a heavier fullness for his live set as he utilized an acoustic-electric guitar. Completing his live renditions were a few of the Other Lives band members that he invited on stage. During one song, Jesse Tabish sang backing vocals with Johnathan Mooney on drums. The audience beamed in appreciation of JBM’s raw performances during songs from his first album not even in July and his newer songs found on his album Stray Ashes, set to release next year. JBM relocated around the stage during the set, sometimes sitting for an intimate atmosphere, and other times standing dead center with his songs commanding attention. Although many of JBM’s songs have a booming nostalgia laced beneath the framework, JBM brought a warmth to The Tractor Tavern for the opening spot on this December evening.
See extra photos and some videos of the tamer songs performed below: