OK GO at Terminal 5 or: We Made The Guy From OKGO Uncomfortable

OK GO at Terminal 5, 10/29/10

OK GO Is Pretty Great, Depending On How You Feel About Them

There are a lot of people that maintain that they’d write better music if they stopped making those elaborate (and yes, kickass) videos. That reasoning disregards the nuances of the entertainment landscape post-YouTube. OK GO, from my memory, has always been a perpetually evolving performance art outfit. Even their videos from their self-titled freshman album were strange and meticulously thought-out, if a little obvious (I’m looking at you, “Get Over It”), statements. But Get Over It fucking rawks. With an “AW.” So you KNOW it rocks. At the same time, there is a lot of filler on OK GO… and Oh No, and maybe even their latest offering, Of The Blue Colour Of the Sky. Now, overlooking the duechiness of using the Queen’s spelling, Of the Blue is a very solid, genre-bending (ugh) release. But it really sings when paired with their short-form, high-concept, straight-to-YouTube videos. In fact, I’m going to go so far as to say that they do not intend to separate their music from the videos in any specific way.

A Case Study

Jim and I went to the Bamboozle Festival in Jersey (and got a blow out on the way home, one more reason to hate Jersey with a herpes-like passion) this May just passed. Amid the high 16-year olds and break-boys was a very solid hipster-chic lineup: the ever-underrated MuteMath, the Pink Floyd-levels-of-boring MGMT, the oddly exuberant Weezer, and OK GO. OK GO played in the afternoon and only got a 20 minute set and, aside from an awesome Pixies cover (it’s really sad when people at a concert don’t know the lyrics to “Debaser”… just sayin’s all), they were very unremarkable. It was 90-something degrees out, lead singer Damian Kulash’s voice was shot from a tour’s-worth of shouting “Let it go, this too will pass,” and their bassist, as great and probably hilarious as he is, seriously has a creepy-touchy-uncle vibe going on these days. All these things add up to me being sort of disappointed because I was raring to go.

Fast forward to their show at Terminal 5 on October 29: Big-ass projected screens? Check. A full set? Check. Premier of the 3D release of “White Knuckles. Yep. Microphone-mounted cameras? Fuck yeah. Damian came out into the middle of the crowd and did a couple acoustic songs. From the projected mismatched wall paper interstitials and distributed 3D glasses to the unwavering musicianship of the gang, it was both high-concept and just blisteringly-fun rock.

So The Moral of the Story Is

Damian Kulash of OK GO

Even though OK Go clearly takes themselves very seriously, you shouldn’t. Not only would that be against the near-constant tongue-in-cheek winking that they do, but because you’ll just enjoy it less. I read some interview with Damian (was it on Gizmodo? edit: yes it was) where he said that even if they weren’t a band, they’d still be making videos and doing ridiculous things involving gilly suits. This should be accepted as the reson d’etre of the band: Art for Art’s sake with some rockin’ beats.

Oh, the Uncomfortable Part?

Phil was with us, so obviously chants of U-S-A! U-S-A! were happening. And they were happening when Damian was in the crowd, five feet from us. If you find the live recording of the night (something they do for every show) you’ll here him pause and say, “I’m not really very nationalistic, but there’s something very right about that.” He still looked perturbed. I lol’d.

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About chris
www.chriscona.com

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