Perhaps most famous for its complex and colorful YouTube videos, OK Go has built a solid reputation as a multiplatform band whose concerts are equal parts musicianship and performance art, and Monday’s show was no exception. Filled to bursting with awesome sights and sounds, it was a great way to bring arena-style rock to a theater-sized space.
The band began its set standing behind a semitransparent scrim upon which the members’ distorted faces, mimicking the cover of its latest release, Hungry Ghosts, were projected. It was an effect that set the tone for the show to follow, mixing technology and live performance in a literally in-your-face manner. Seven songs from that album were performed, along with six from its 2010 effort, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, and three each from its freshman and sophomore efforts OK Go and Oh No. And just to demonstrate its hard-rocking chops, the quartet kicked out a quite respectable cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.”
Despite the stylistic evolutions the band has experienced over the years, from power pop to more serious-minded music, the set nevertheless flowed organically, augmented by some wicked stagecraft.
Interactivity was the overriding theme of the show, as frontman Damian Kulash conducted a couple of audience Q&As; he also used his iPhone to transform its clapping, stomping, and high-hat impersonations (you had to be there) into a percussion track. The singer even jumped into the crowd himself to render a lovely acoustic performance of “Last Leaf.”
Kulash’s vocals sounded terrific (you must hear his Robert Plant) as did the entire band, including bassist Tim Nordwind, drummer Dan Konopka, and keyboardist Andy Ross.
The visual spectacle was nonstop and mesmerizing—sometimes both the rear screen and the scrim would be alive with flashing shapes and colors to intensify the more psychedelic portions of the evening.
For the encore, the band reappeared dressed in identical white jumpsuits to bring the “A Million Ways” video to life as Nordwind lip-synched his original vocals. The neat trick was that when the suits were illuminated by blacklight, they became distinctively and brightly colored.
Closing with the inevitable “Here It Goes Again,” Kulash invited audience members up onto the stage to dance as even more confetti was fired into the air. I don’t know what was happening on the Riverwalk at that moment, but inside the Aztec, it was a joyous celebration indeed.