Concert Review: OK GO at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge

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When most casual fans are asked about the band Ok Go, a good number will respond by mention something about one particular (and infamous) You Tube video. In fact, that dancing-on-treadmills music video is how the band first began to make some big steps forward, and from there they continued releasing more and more inventive videos (ranging from their choreographed marching band clip to their terribly satisfying Rube Goldberg Machine), all the while creating a sizeable Internet fan base. Don’t be fooled though, the music video for “Here It Goes Again” may have over 50,000,000 views on You Tube, but what brings fans back for more is the lasting impression of their “dancey” art pop rock.

It’s not too often that there’s a line of people snaking all the way out to parking lot gates an hour before any show at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge. This was the case though for last week’s Ok Go show, and even as the sky began to sleet, waiting concertgoers remained in high spirits. Once making it in from the unholy cold, everyone was greeted with a pair of 3D glasses before taking their place in the crowd.

However, by the time opening act Samuel took the stage, the previously spirited crowd turned into typically lethargic Nashville audience. Samuel tried to rouse the sleepy mass with bass heavy pop sing-alongs, while the second act Those Darlins tore though their garage-informed southern rock set with songs about “being to hungry to have sex” and a hot cover of The Guess Who’s “Shakin’ All Over.”

Seemingly tired of the crowd’s lack of gusto, Nikki Darling warmed things up by hopping off that stage to start up some dancing.

Before Ok Go took the stage, their crew set up and adjusted an intriguingly strange array of instruments—ranging from an easily identifiable drum set and bass to a large set of chimes and what appeared to be small video cameras mounted on the microphones. The band finally emerged, looking a bit like walking crayons in their colored suits of blue, yellow, green and red, and kicked off the set with “Do What You Want.”

They didn’t waste time starting up the confetti machine, which proved to be almost as important as their drummer, due to it’s showering of the crowd several times during almost every song. It’s hard to imagine so much confetti outside of a Flaming Lips concert or a music festival, but truth be told, you can never have too much confetti.

While working through songs off both their older Oh No album and their newest disc, Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky, they incorporated different homemade gadgets, one of which appeared to be a little box with a light attached which emitted different frequencies when played with by Damian Kulash, the lead vocalist, guitar player, and charismatic circus leader of the show.

On his left bounced their bass player Tim Nordwind in his signature sunglasses, and on his right was Andy Ross, who switched between guitar, double neck guitar, keyboard, and chimes.

At one point, a table full of bells was pulled onto the stage and Dan Konopka, the drummer, joined the rest of the band front and center to don some white gloves. After shushing the crowd, they proceeded to play an entire song with hand bells.

After, and in order to play “Last Leaf” “hippie-style,” Kulash grabbed his guitar and mic stand and set up in the middle of the crowd to perform the song amidst cell phone clutching fans. Being a very media aware band (as shown through their large online presence), they paused midway through the show to announce that they were videotaping the show, and that if concertgoers texted email addresses to the number on the stage screen, they would receive a recording of one of the songs from that night. Then, Damian took a picture of the crowd so everyone could tag themselves on Facebook.

Eventually, the band announced to the crowd that it was time to put on their 3D glasses so they could watch the music video for White Knuckles in 3D on the stage screen. It was these little random things that made the movements of the show greatly embody the nerdy dance rock that is Ok Go.

After being cheered back on stage for an encore, the band stood side-by-side facing away from the crowd in order to show the backs of their jackets light up and create a sort of human slot machine. After having all the jackets land on the grand prize, the crowd was showered in yet more confetti, and the band broke out light-up guitars with faux fur and lasers attached to the heads. (Nordwind had modified his bass to show a light up rolling script alongside his lasers.) To say the least, it had quite an effect on the crowd.

After the show, a surprisingly wide variety of fans trudged through mounds of confetti towards the door, from the man easily old enough to be someone’s father sporting an Ok Go ball cap to the young girls toting a sign that said “OK GO IS SO DAMN HOT!”

While Ok Go’s live show felt like one of their music videos came to life and decided to have a party, it is also perhaps a taste of the future of the concert experience that fans of varying ages can enjoy.

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