Other Lives

I may sound naïve, but the following really happened.

I have been after Other Lives in concert for months, so when I read about a Shepherds Bush appearance I started all my PR seducing techniques to get a pass… and a ticket to stay, which is a must-have thing at the Empire.

It wasn’t a big hassle, considering their online press is the best, kindest in UK. Nevertheless when I was approved I was overexcited.
I thought this would have been a very big show for them. Very deserved.

The day of the gig I got my e-mail printed, I got off work a bit earlier, I got to the station, took the train to London, tube… usual stuff. Shepherd’s Bush Empire is 2 hours away from Cambridge so I limit my journeys there to bands very important to me. Other Lives checks that box.

I also avoid arriving to gigs last minute, just in case there’s a nice support or to hang out with fellow photographers or friends.

So easy was to get a pass, so pain-in-the-back is dealing with Shepherd Bush Empire crew. I arrive and stand in front of the tiny box office window with the same feeling of being interviewed at the border by a police officer convinced you are a criminal trying to flee the country

The girl stares undecided whether I am a terrorist wishing to blow out the building or a mythomaniac pretending to be a famous photographer to stab the band leader.
I go: “There should be a photopass in my name, Valerio”. This is to hear back, behind a cynic smile while searching hand written lists: “I am sorry there is nothing for you”. My name is NEVER on the list there.

I search for the e-mail, show it, all cleared. Photopass sticker sorted and usual end of the drama. “I told you” “I’m sorry there has been an error it’s not my fault if your name isn’t hear I can’t let you in”. “My name was there” and the cynic smile travels back from me to the owner.

Out on the street, I head to the venue’s back door. They allow photographers in the pit only seconds before the band arrives. I get kicked off (the venue) after the third song; I leave the camera gear backstage and take the receipt/number to claim it back (one day I will lose that micro-piece of paper and will have to leave my gear to Empire’s security, I know it will happen).
I walk back into the venue (a missed song later, at least) only because I could show a proper ticket.
This was all for Elephant, the support band.

In fact, it was only when I noticed the stage times sheet on the Shepherd Bush Empire backdoor while waiting for the number/receipt that I realized Chapel Club were the main act tonight, playing after Other Lives, a second support.

Chapel Club, pretty unknown, headlining. Other Lives one of my favourite bands of the year, supporting them? My perception of the music scene is severely biased.

All this journey for a meagre 30-40 minutes/six songs set (minus one song to leave the bag, details above)!
Would this be worth? Was my big question around 8PM
Yes, It was! The easy answer around 9PM

Other Lives are otherworldly. Untrue on a literal sense, but it gives the idea of something special.

They gets inspired from Fleet Foxes harmonies and have the same impact of them on stage. Which is a big statement not a music comparison.
I think musically they owe more to the late Midlake from the songwriting perspective, but surely in the philosophy and the stage attitude they reminded me of Seattle new heroes.
Put the two together, expect something big.

Other Lives music has not a lot to compare with what you listen to on the album, despite their latest Tamer Animals is brilliant, live it improves.

The band five members bring such a huge sound on stage. The songs levitate as if the venue was a hot oven (it actually was tonight) where you’re baking your homemade muffins.

From the dough, you already know they will taste good, but it’s when they rise, when the heat propagate the smell, that moment you can’t resist.
You also know you can’t open the oven otherwise they got flabby.

Translating, this stupid metaphor means you want to listen to Other Lives live set in religious silence. The sophisticated arrangements they bring on stage develop the songs and require no distraction.

Unfortunately London isn’t the best place to listen to a concert in silence. Unless it’s jazz at Barbican or classical at the RFH, these days sport is to chat, drink, snap, video, upload or do every other activity smartphones can do except putting attention and pointing the ears and the eyes onto the music.

Imagine this projected on a gig where Other Lives are not even the headliners: bad. A gig at which they are opening for a band (I will discover later) with nothing in common musically with them: worse.

For once I enjoyed the gig more during the three songs allocated for the shooting than for the other three (minus one) songs I could stand in the audience.

All the same, nothing could release me from the perception that I was in front of a great band performing in the wrong… oven, erm, place.

Unfortunately I missed their gig at Giles in The Field a couple of days ago. With the news that they will be opening for Radiohead American tour in 2012, I feel the occasions to catch this band in an intimate venue are running short.

Maybe I will meet them again headlining Shepherds Bush Empire next year. It would be a nice way to celebrate and delete… I mean… forget this night.

This is the web places to be in touch with them [website] [facebook] [twitter] [myspace]

Photo tip

Mobile phones turned into smart phones sometime few years ago and became everything but phones. Mainly compact (video)cameras connected to the web full time.

Social networks boomed. The need of gratification coming from recognition (nowadays called “to like” “to retweet” “to follow” “to +1”) today is more important than the gratification from having fun at a concert.
It is about being cool and climb the coolness peak. It’s about hearing from our cooler friends how cool we are (so to increase our coolness factor) and make the less cool friends jealous (so to confirm our cooler position)

We moved from living life to sharing life. (shall I tweet this? I will)
We moved from watching life to recording life. (and this)

Anything we do today has a urge to be shared. Shared to get feedback. Feedback is a new kind of currency. Often a surrogate that fulfills the lack of payment. It goes like “I don’t earn as a photographer/writer/musician/blogger but I am cool because I have xxxx followers”. Klout.com score epitomize this. The New York parties (waiting for the East London leg) allowing you in only whether you have a Klout score above a certain number takes the Social Network addiction to a pathological level.

Let’s be clear, I’m not being snobby. I’m not immune, I don’t deny progress, I’m part of this. I am omnipresent on every social networks, I sign to them, check them, some I enjoy, some I neglect. This site would be much less visited without them. So they are indeed useful for visibility (not to earn an income but this is a different matter) and for plain fun.

I am interested to these psychological patterns. I’d like to read an essay on “the need of recognition and the satisfaction obtained by feedback from social networks”. If you are aware of something like this being written or want to write I will buy a copy.

Instagram is the iPhone-only photo social network. Being iPhone it is not a limit (million of iPhone users out there) and has the advantage that all its members have at least one thing in common: an iPhone. Genius.

Second it has a sort of old fashion, vintage film camera photos appeal that embodies the “hipsters” community. With the advantage of being digital and on your phone it easily went viral. So at UK indie gigs it is a must have thing.

The end point or my reflection is: social networks rise is unstoppable. We have to deal with it. The relevance of one network against the other will change (remember Myspace?) but there will always be a mass of people out there in need of recognition using YouTube or YouSomethingelse.

Where’s the photo tip?
Here: Please, whatever you do with your smartphone at concerts, try to do it unobtrusively and silently. I will follow you!


This was taken with Instagr.am at this gig.

~ by Valerio on November 23, 2011.

3 Responses to “Other Lives”

  1. Hey Valerio: very interesting words for me. On 2 scores. I was at Shep Bush last night (for Wild Beasts) and, as you know, I’m a big IGer and have similarly been fascinated by the rise of the social network, IG and others. You’re right about the inexorable rise of cool. I find it rife on Twitter – perhaps because of the word limitation. Good piece in The Word magazine by David Hepworth (this month?) about precisely the same issue. Will see if I can link you it. Know exactly what you mean re talking during songs. And that venue is the worst. Remember seeing Elbow there years ago and getting so annoyed with all the chatting and clinking of glasses. But have to say, I found security fine last night. And I got a free ticket for the show when I picked up the photo pass! Anyway, hope to “hang” with you one at a gig one of these days ; )

  2. Thanks Richard, I’ll look for the article and grab a copy eventually. Sheperds Bush is best venue as for the photos. The low pit is great… they’re just to picky on the policy sometime.

  3. Ciao Vale
    I saw them @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen with Myriam and her bf back in august: what an amazing (and also quiet) gig! I bought both cds and Jesse signed them for me. Hope to see them again in Italy (I missed their gig in Milan last month).

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