Concert Review: OK GO’s Multisensory Concert Experience is a Must Go!
There wasn’t anything usual at the innovative OK GO concert as the band brought their Live Video Tour to the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, California, on Wednesday night.
The ultra-creative band, originally based in Chicago and now in Los Angeles, delivered a fun, engaging and highly entertaining show that kept most of the audience on the edge of their seats during the nearly two-hour concert. If you have attended an OK GO show before, you know the band takes an unconventional yet amusing approach to most things, from their videos to the live performances; this band sets out to be different and has maintained their idiosyncratic style since initially forming in 1998.
The indie pop rock quartet delivered an inspired performance to an audience that varied in ages from young children and teens to even mature adults, some of whom wore unusual and peculiar costumes, many of which have appeared in some of the band’s most popular videos. Clearly, this band has a broad appeal, and their most loyal fans showed up on Halloween eve for a night filled with imagination and creativity. What made this show interesting was not only the venue, an arts theater that is not stereotypical of your hosting a rock concert, but also the format of the show, again not typical, and how the band engaged and connected with those who came to see them live.
Once the house lights dipped, the crowd responded with approval as the band took up their positions on stage. With Tim Nordwind on bass standing at far left and Dan Konopka on drums right behind him, Andy Ross handling the keyboards and guitar far right and lead vocalist Damian Kulash at center stage, without hesitation the band got into Get Over It with their video displayed on a massive screen behind them as they played live. To the merriment of their audience guests, OK GO unleashed a flurry of confetti that showered the audience nearly halfway up the theater, and it got the crowd going. They followed up with Here It Goes Again and Do What You Want before stopping the music and bringing up the house lights to engage in a short Q&A dialog session, where the audience got to ask the band anything that came to mind. The first question came from the upper reaches of the theater, followed by a question from a young fan who asked how the band gets their ideas on music video creation, something that OK GO is known for. After a few more questions, it was time to get back to the music that led OK GO into fan-favorites All Is Not Lost and White Knuckles. Admittedly, this show was quite unconventional with respect to a mix of music, videos, and a Q&A session. It gave their fans a chance to connect directly with the band, something that is not typical in today’s rock shows; it was very intriguing.
After a brief intermission, the ensemble came back on stage and stood behind a table that had a large collection of brass bells of all sizes, leading them into Shooting the Moon and What to Do, both songs played entirely in bells. The dulcet tones led into Damian Kulash walking into the audience and giving fans an up-close and personal meet-and-greet while playing an acoustic version of Last Leaf. Not forgetting that OK GO is a rock band, it was time to pick up the tempo, and with another burst of confetti, the quartet led into Needing/Getting, The Writing’s On the Wall, and I Won’t Let You Down. Finally, it was time to thank the audience and say goodnight. The video screen led the audience into the encore with a series of messages that got the crowd going once again. To the delight of those who remained, OK GO honored their fans with two more songs: Skyscrapers and Song 2 (Blur cover).
This concert was clearly designed for theaters. OK GO led the audience into an open dialog that included several Q&A sessions in between songs. At most rock shows, the band jams, the audience listens, and there is little to no dialog or engagement. However, this tour is all about connection. The concert was not merely about a rock show; it was about engagement, with a little humor peppered in giving fans of varying ages an opportunity to ask questions, some simple yet others more in-depth.
This show wasn’t simply about rocking out but more about bridging a gap that often exists between a band and their fans. It was a chance to be among friends or perhaps make new ones as everyone who came to the show was on common ground. This is a band that has offered so much to their most loyal fans since first taking the stage in 1998, and it was a chance to reflect upon what is important in life and what the band started then and where they have gone since. As the concert wrapped up, the audience was now enlightened about the band they came to see. They left with an understanding of how the band has worked hard to achieve their success, one song and video at a time. It has been a long road, one that the band embraces and appreciates and which has led to creative motivation to one-up their previous works through the use of innovation, inspiration and perhaps even perspiration. Knowing that even though OK GO has reached a fair level of success, they remain true to their unique style and clearly make an effort to maintain a personal relationship with their audiences. What lies ahead from this newfangled band? Who knows, but one thing is for certain: they have chiseled their way into their fans’ hearts.
Set List: Get Over It, A Million Ways, Here It Goes Again, Do What You Want, WTF?, This Too Shall Pass, End Love, All Is Not Lost, White Knuckles, Intermission Shooting the Moon (played on bells), What to Do, Last Leaf (acoustic), Needing/Getting, The Writing’s On the Wall, I Won’t Let You Down, Upside Down & Inside Out, Obsession, The One Moment, Encore: Skyscrapers, Song 2 (Blur cover)