Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Other Life of an Evening

"Just when I think I need to move back to Brooklyn, I find out about something like this and I can't leave Richmond."

"This" was one of those perfect storms where you just had to be there.

Take a band called Other Lives who was supposed to play a three-band bill tonight, but the headliner got asked to do Letterman and they were left gig-less.

Put them in a music studio that's about to change locations and wanted an excuse for a farewell party.

Attached to the studio was a bricked-in patio area with vines covering the walls, fairly lights everywhere and a fire pit roaring in the middle of a circle of chairs.

Invite Pizza Tonight to bake endless pizzas in their mobile brick oven (I had potato rosemary and pepperoni) to accompany the beer and wine provided.

And it was all free.

The evening began on the patio under the stars with libations and mingling.

Amazingly at that point, I only recognized two people despite the crowd being bearded and plaid-shirted.

As pizzas began coming out of the oven, people helped themselves repeatedly.

I did four slices but only after a new acquaintance insisted we go up together and act nonchalant about getting our fourth.

Gluttony strength in numbers.

While chatting afterwards with an engaging guy from Pittsburgh, someone came out and said, "I hear E-Minor!"

Knowing that to be a song from Other Lives' first album, I excused myself from a very interesting conversation and went into the recoding studio for the show.

There were maybe fifty of us for this magical show.

The perfect acoustics of Black Iris Music made for a rapt audience and exquisite sound.

A latecomer told me after the show that when he walked in, he wasn't sure if he was hearing a recording or live music.

Other Lives make beautifully lush music using guitar, cello, piano, bass and drums that had the audience silent with awe for what we were hearing.

As shows go, it was audio perfection.

Lead singer Jesse's voice was deep and rich and the arrangements highlighted the ensemble-ness of the group; they were so much more than just a band.

Asking if the small crowd knew the Ramones' "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue," Jesse said, "This won't be like that. I love Burt Bacharach and I wish we had a trumpet for this."

Joey may be rolling over in his grave but their version of the punk song would have done Burt proud (Jesse noted when in the song the trumpet would have played).

After the song, he said, "We need to add that to all our sets." He had my full vote on that.

He also acknowledged that it was his first time drinking during a show due to the casual atmosphere of the event. "This is not like a real rock show and I really like it," he said.

Since they had been opening for Bon Iver on the West Coast, he knows of what he speaks.

After the mesmerizing set ended, people milled about marveling at what we'd just seen. Many people had arrived late after getting texts from early attendees about what was going on.

Now there were people I knew: members of Zep Repplica and Denali, a Listening Room photographer, a music blogger and not one but two Gallery 5 bartenders who came up and introduced themselves, saying they recognized me.

The irony there is that I almost never drink at a G5 show. Bartenders must be people watchers or else I'm in the bathroom line a little too often.

But even if I hadn't known a soul, I would have counted myself fortunate to have see Other Lives perform in such a small space.

I gave the friend who said he'd been thinking about returning to Brooklyn a hard time when he said it.

Something like this happens in RVA more than most people notice.

And there's no Pizza Tonight in Brooklyn.


  1. So sad I missed this one. Drat you, Monday night! Why do I have a day job???

  2. This sounded great!

  3. Cynthia,

    I don't want to rub it in or anything, but the pizza and drinking began at 7 and the show around 8:30. After they played, I mingled for 45 minutes and was still on my way to Secco with a late arriving friend for rose and cheese by 10:15!

    It was a night suited for even day jobbers!


    It was beyond great! It was a perfect evening!