Friday, Feb. 24
When Other Lives opened with “As I Lay My Head Down” at Local 506 Friday night, it felt like a revival. Jesse Tabish ignited his little five-piece folk orchestra to drive out the devil. Percussion from Josh Onstott and Colby Owens thundered, thumping the packed crowd in the chest. And this was just the beginning: As Other Lives rolled on through their set, nearly 20 instruments were introduced for Tabish’s parables and down-trodden testimonies.
During the climax of the slow builder “Weather,” the group beat on anything they could find; as if by moved by the spirit, Jonathon Mooney lifted a rusted-out trumpet for a dissonant solo. Mooney introduced minor key trotter “Dust Bowl III” by dragging a bow across a xylophone. And when Tabish sang “Just as the wind blows,” he motioned his hand clear and straight, suggesting the Oklahoma expanses the band calls home.
“We didn’t expect any of this,” said a humble Tabish to the full room. “We played here five years ago for three people.”
“It was a graveyard,” Mooney answered.
Tonight was anything but: Other Lives mesmerized a congregation of folks who had traveled from as far off as Georgia. “Fucking amazing,” someone in the crowd yelled as Other Lives closed out a set of new songs that included every band member doubling up on instruments. At one point, Jenny Hsu was tapping on her cello with drum sticks while Tabish struck a hotel service bell.
During the encore, Tabish was alone with his keyboard for a hushed “Black Tables.” For the first time during the show, he closed his eyes while everyone in the room looked up to him. “Thank you guys for being here,” he said, smiling/ “I can’t thank you guys enough.”
Harmonized “Ahhs” sounded like the beginning of “Amen.”