Live Review: OK Go with Earl Greyhound and Robert Francis at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 5 May 2010

By on Monday, 10th May 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Having been a fan for years but never making it to one of their shows, last Wednesday I made it down to beloved DC venue the 9:30 Club to see if OK Go‘s live show was up to the standard of their amazing music videos (see ‘Here It Goes Again’ and ‘This Too Shall Pass’).  In fact, I think their live show is even better, combining their creativity with an immediacy and intensity you can’t get on your computer screen.

The first opener was Robert Francis. He had a nice voice – deep, but also adept at falsetto – but it was often hard to hear over the music, which was too loud (especially the drums) and not mixed properly. His set was fine, but lacked any real spark that would get the crowd involved.

The second opener, Earl Greyhound, went over much better. They played rock that was both harder and more funky, and their style was very 70s. They were incredibly skilled on their instruments, especially the drummer. Their energy was phenomenal and they really got the crowd ready for OK Go.

But of course, the real highlight of the night was OK Go. They brought the same creativity and innovation from their music videos to their live show, yet refrained from just re-creating their videos. They had cameras mounted on their equipment, including lead singer and guitarist Damian Kulash’s mic, that allowed them to show interesting angles of the gig on the screen behind them. They saved some of their best tricks for the encore: they had LED-covered jackets that spelled out “OK GO” on the back (1 letter for each of the 4 members), lit-up fiberglass creating a “halo” effect around their guitars, and lazer beams coming out of the necks of their guitars. And in one of their most brilliant ideas, they had USB drives for sale after the show that came pre-loaded with their newest album, ‘Of the Blue Color of the Sky,’ and audio of the entire show from that night.

But OK Go is not just about gimmicks, their music is fantastic – very catchy songs played with a lot of enthusiasm. Damian’s voice is very versatile, flitting between his normal range (‘A Million Ways’), falsetto (‘Oh Lately It’s So Quiet’), “gravelly rock voice” (Pixies cover ‘Debaser’) and screaming (‘Skyscrapers’). Some of the best moments of the nights were also musically the simplest.  During ‘Last Leaf,’ Damian ventured out into the middle of the crowd with just a mic and an acoustic guitar for a beautiful solo. On ‘What to Do,’ the whole band played handbells – it was simple and beautiful, and something I’ve yet to see another band do. The way the music drops out in ‘Needing/Getting’ when they sing “It don’t get much dumber / than trying to forget / a girl when you love her” is just as captivating live as it is on the album. But the best moment of the night was probably when they got the entire crowd singing “Let it go, this too shall pass” – gorgeous.

Even the spaces between the songs were fun, with Damian’s hilarious and charming banter and his incredible rapport with the crowd. He said that DC is their favourite place to play, most likely because it is where he grew up. Between talking policy (net neutrality and off-shore drilling) and making jokes about things only locals would know, they were perfectly suited to the crowd. Hell, the ticket price is worth it for Damian’s stories alone. He told a particularly hilarious anecdote about going to a Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo (“a made-up American holiday for celebrating somebody else’s independence”) and them spilling ceviche on his suit (“f**king fish juice and VINEGAR!! Nothing smells good about ceviche, people!”)

If you get the chance to go to an OK Go gig, then take it – you’ll have a fantastic time.

After the cut: OK Go set list and more photos

OK Go Set List:

Invincible
Needing/Getting
A Million Ways
All Is Not Lost
I Want You So Bad
White Knuckle
Oh Lately It’s So Quiet
Good Idea
Here It Goes Again
What to Do
Last Leaf
Don’t Ask
Get Over It
Back from Kathmandu
Debaser (Pixies Cover)
This Too Shall Pass
//
WTF
Skyscrapers
Do What You Want

OK Go Photos

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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