The pop-rock group OK Go has some solid hits, but it is always hard to tell how a group’s work will translate live. However, their recent concert at New York City’s Terminal 5 ended any such concerns. The quality of their music and the group’s superb showmanship made for an exciting evening of great entertainment.
Eytan and the Embassy, a catchy alternative-rock-and-pop group, warmed up the crowd before the main event. They did a fine job, somehow incorporating a cowbell into their very last song.
After that came The Darlins, a rock/country group. Their music was a little “twangy” for many tastes, but listening to them was okay while waiting for OK Go to come on stage.
OK Go’s music seemed even better in person than on record. They began with “Do What You Want,” a guitar-heavy number from their second album, “Oh No.” It was the perfect opening: the tune was catchy, lights were flashing, live feed of the band was on the screen and confetti was repeatedly being shot from the stage.
The band’s rendition of the song was full of energy and had everyone in the audience singing – or yelling – along.
Next was “White Knuckles,” the single from their new album, “Of the Blue Colour of the Sky.” The audience gasped at the 3-D effects of the video when viewed with the special glasses handed out.
After they sang “Invincible,” the group brought out a table of handbells to use with their other instruments. After just a couple of songs, it was clear that this band is about much more than music. Their goal wasn’t just to play songs; they wanted to entertain the crowd, both with their music and their showmanship.
Frontman Damian Kulash demonstrated his penchant for showmanship when he walked right into the audience and dedicated a song to the many hippies in the crowd.
After Kulash rejoined the band, they played the song that made them famous and won them a Grammy for Best Music Video: “Here it Goes Again.” Readers might recall it as “the video with people dancing on treadmills” that was quite a phenomenon after its release in 2006.
The music seemed to mellow a little after that, with a less guitar-heavy song, “I Want You So Bad I Can’t Breathe,” also from their new album.
The band closed with another new song: “This Too Shall Pass.” The band exited the stage to thunderous applause, which quickly brought them back for an encore.
OK Go must have been expecting this call because they came back wearing light-up suits and sported guitars shooting lasers. Confetti was flying, lights were blinking and the disco ball was spinning. The sheer spectacle was distracting enough that the name of the song didn’t seem important.
In retrospect, the whole concert was like that. Some might worry that the special effects might be distracting from the actual music, but OK Go is talented enough to perform in a way that keeps people listening even when they might be having trouble paying attention. To put it simply, both musically and theatrically, OK Go really rocks.
Mary Kate Martin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.