It was my editor who gave me Tamer Animals in 2011 for a review. I scribbled a due date in my calendar and put the album in the middle of my to-listen pile. It was an assignment, just another assignment. But today I couldn’t tell you what other albums I reviewed that month. I can’t picture the cover of whatever was at the top of the pile, or the name of any other assigned album on the subject line of my inbox. What I remember is the sound of Other Lives filling the small space of my bedroom, Tamer Animals stuck on repeat.
After that, any Other Lives-related business that came to Red River Noise went through me. I remember being incredibly happy for the band when it was announced they were chosen to open for Radiohead, because c’mon, it’s fucking Radiohead, and I had the pleasure of interviewing lead singer Jesse Tabish a couple of weeks after that. Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to an Other Lives show for a while. When their Austin date was set for Nov. 9 at Mohawk? Oh, yeah. I was all over that.
The opener was one-man band Indians, also known as Søren Løkke Juul, from Copenhagen. This is his first time in Austin and he seemed genuinely happy to be here. Indians was different from Other Lives, but the match was still decidedly cohesive. His music transmits a sense of open spaces, but it’s very neo-indie, sounds that seem to have been made for audiences to just stand awkwardly to. The band announced they’ve recently been signed to 4AD and will release 7’’ Cakelakers Nov. 19 and debut album Somewhere Else January 2013.
Indians did a good job of keeping the audience entertained, but Copenhagen Dude is not why I red-highlighted Nov. 9 in my calendar. Although I’ve been to many a show where the opener turns out to be an awesome surprise, Indians wasn’t particularly memorable for me. I was excited for the main event, and not just because my date for the night was my emo-screamo-loving boyfriend, whom I brought specifically because I thought he’d hate the band, which makes me smile (insert evil laugh here). But when Other Lives took the stage it was clear they were there to do a job. I could tell they were exhausted and they barely interacted with the audience until three songs in. That was a gentle disappointment, but the Oklahoma band still played an excellent set, the booms of Tamer Animals competing with the traveling noise of the Red River district.
Every single song was played beautifully. After being totally entranced, I snapped back to the present and realized Emo-Screamo-Boyfriend wasn’t gagging. He confessed he was enjoying Other Lives, claiming their music was like “walking through the desert, becoming one with the coyotes.” Even though the boy was kidding about the coyotes (just, you know, for the record), Tamer Animals is very tribal, and that was definitely channeled on stage. The gusts of wind whistling through the Mohawk rooftop danced with the sounds of “Dark Horse” and we all swayed and stomped to “Old Statues” and my personal favorite, “For 12.”
The band announced their upcoming EP Mind The Gap, which includes a collaboration with Thom Yorke, and Tabish thanked Austin every now and then between songs, mentioning his sister recently moved to the city and snagged a role in Sin City 2. But Friday night wasn’t about spectacle or conversation, it was purely about the music. The band closed with “Dust Bowl III”, and to the right of the stage I could see two girls, completely separate from the rest of the audience, just swaying, swaying, swaying, becoming one with the coyotes.