Live Review: ARK LIFE at Hi-Dive, Denver, 3/6/13

I gave you so much time to love me. I’m gonna have to leave you now.

Ark Life

It’s pretty simple. We planned on reviewing The Lone Bellow, having a beer or two and getting out of Dodge. When The Lone Bellow bailed, we shifted our attention to the brilliant headliner, Ivan & Alyosha. In the end, we were introduced to Ark Life, the presumed last-minute replacement band, had a beer or two and got out of Dodge. No apologies, no regrets.

Sorry, we’ve got next to no deets on the band, but the street chatter is they’re new to Denver. Seems like they might be from New York. It’s a basic five-piece outfit: three guitars (yes, we consider bass a guitar), electric piano, drums. Frontman Jesse Elliott toured previously in a band opening for The Heartless Bastards. The rest undoubtedly have their own six degrees, too.

Natalie Tate and Jesse Elliott

Natalie Tate and Jesse Elliott

So, here’s the deal. With no previous knowledge of the band and absolutely no expectations, we were, about five seconds into the first song, transported to Saved-Era Bob Dylan Land. In a good way. Electric guitarist Natalie Tate, bassist Anna At Play, and pianist Lindsay Giles McWilliams made no secret of their weapon: three-part harmony. Oh, it was deadly. The set was drenched in ooohs and aaahs, but not the shaky, gross kind. The on-point while playing and moving around kind. While Jesse Elliott sang his song-stories, made cute faces and boogied, the lush harmonies filled the room in moments that a lesser band would leave empty. Perhaps the vocal timbre of the gang could be likened to Fleet Foxes but with female dynamism.

Hello L.O.V… E … Goodbye all of my dreams. 

Back to my Dylan comment. Jangly slap-slap guitars, piano and drums – the sound (not to force it into a particular age) was very reminiscent of late 70s/early 80s storytelling. It was old fashioned, if you like. An utter lack of pretense permeated the songs. Smiles abounded on stage. Musicians trusting each other and experiencing joy while performing can make the listener’s deepest aches and pains go away if just for a minute. Ark Life has some of that. Tate even told the following joke: “Did you hear about the corduroy pillow? It’s making headlines.” Elliott debuted a song he cowrote with some Dana Falconberry scrawl. This was great. Got to shout out drummer Ben Desoto for a suf rockin’ beat. Friend of the band, Tyler Lee Holter, even hopped onstage with an acoustic guitar for one song to the delight of the Hi-Dive faithful.

Anna At Play breaks it down with Tyler Lee Holter

Anna At Play breaks it down with Tyler Lee Holter

This is inception time, people. Think of all the bands you listen to and know. Did you catch them in the earliest days when that electricity was so palpable? That’s what I love about having witnessed Ark Life now. Later might be great, too, but now is NOW. As of the time of this writing, they don’t have any music to hear online (this must change), but you can like ’em here.


5 thoughts on “Live Review: ARK LIFE at Hi-Dive, Denver, 3/6/13

  1. joeandbeth says:

    Sometimes seeing a band for the first time is like being on a blind date. We first saw Jesse Elliott and Anna At Play with These United States in Philadelphia. Ever since, we have been listening to their music every day. Can’t wait to hear Ark Life.

  2. Kerry says:

    Got to see them – and then found this review, and it was a perfect description of what I saw. And I too love that I got to see them NOW, and I look forward to seeing them down the road as well. Great, great review.

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