Elvis Perkins and Other Lives

Thursday night (April 30), Schubas had a nice double bill, with Elvis Perkins in Dearland as the headliner plus an opening set by the Oklahoma band Other Lives. It was a sold-out show, which led me to wonder why the room was so empty just before the 9 p.m. starting time. Then I heard a cheer coming from the other room and remembered, “Oh, yeah, there’s a Bulls playoff game.” The room did eventually fill up, with a fair amount of people coming in to watch Other Lives even as the Bulls went into triple overtime.

This was my second time seeing Other Lives as an opening act at Schubas. I’d also seen them open last year for the Little Ones. By now, I’ve heard their cool debut record, a self-titled album that came out earlier this year. They remind me a bit of Midlake, with songs that blend a folk-rock sensibility with the intricate and delicate arrangements of art-rock. “End of the Year” is one of the standout tracks on the album, and its shifting tempos and moods sounded dramatic, almost epic, in concert. Adding a classy touch to the set list, Other Lives played a cover of Leonard Cohen’s song “Partisan.”

By the time Elvis Perkins and his backup band (who are collectively billed as Elvis Perkins in Dearland) took the stage, the Bulls had won their game and the room was full. Perkins is essentially a solo performer, but he clearly likes being part of a band and letting the other musicians have some moments in the spotlight. During the course of this show, the band blew on trombones and saxophones, fiddled on violins, switched off on instruments and banged on a bass drum in marching-band style. Perkins is an excellent singer with some strong songs, and he crooned to nice effect Thursday night, doing folksy ballads as well as old-fashioned rockers. The crowd responded most when he finished the encore with “While You Were Sleeping,” the first track on his first album, Ash Wednesday. And then, it actually was time for sleep.

Photos of Elvis Perkins in Dearland and Other Lives.

Okkervil River and Elvis Perkins at Schubas

Few singers put on such passionate performances as Okkervil River’s Will Sheff. You wonder how he can go through so much onstage catharsis night after night. He and his remarkable band delivered a typically intense show in the second night of a two-night stand at Schubas, including some new songs alongside fan favorites. I like the way the other members of Okkervil River, even the ones without microphones in front of them, sing along or mouth the words of Sheff’s songs. Even the guys who are ostensibly just there to play drums or bass obviously love the songs just as much as the fans do. At the end of the night, Sheff introduced “Kansas City” by saying, “This is the second-to-the-last time we’ll ever play this song.” He said he meaned it, but I’m hoping it was a joke.

Opening act Elvis Perkins seemed pretty good. Given his glasses and sweater and the name Elvis, I couldn’t help thinking of Marshall Crenshew as I listened. He was much less rockabilly than I’d imagined from his name. His song about the moon was excellent.