Review: ‘OK Go’

OK Go is arguably the first band broken by YouTube -- a few months back, links for their video for "Here It Goes Again" (from their sophomore Capitol album, "Oh No"), featuring the band in a cleverly choreographed dance on treadmills, seemed to be everywhere on the net.

OK Go is arguably the first band broken by YouTube — a few months back, links for their video for “Here It Goes Again” (from their sophomore Capitol album, “Oh No”), featuring the band in a cleverly choreographed dance on treadmills, seemed to be everywhere on the net. At the Troubadour Monday (the second of two sold-out perfs), the Chicago quartet didn’t need any exercise equipment; their shaggily energetic set was entertaining enough on its own terms.

Taking the stage in narrowly cut suits accompanied by an overactive smoke machine and the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” their 75-minute show is a gale force rush of Midwestern power pop. The songs don’t have much on their mind other than girls, girls, girls; even “Television, Television,” an attempt at social commentary set to a jittery pogoing riff, climaxes in a demand to “gimme tits and politicians.”

Working in the tradition of unfussy Midwestern power pop, OK Go’s chunky guitar riffs gird economically constructed songs. The melodic guitar fillips and chanted background vocals show a distinct influence of the Cars (especially on the jaunty “Good Idea at the Time”), the Buckinghams and Cheap Trick. The latter’s influence is especially noticeable in OK Go’s appearance: Singer Damian Kulash Jr. and guitarist Andy Ross have the skinny, high-cheek-boned look of rock stars while bassist Timothy Norwind and drummer Dan Konopka look like Arnold Stang and Bun E. Carlos. Gleefully knockabout covers of the Damned’s “Neat, Neat, Neat” and ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” assay their debt to ’70s English pop.

It helps that OK Go doesn’t take itself too seriously. The perf is punctuated by timed leaps, air-blown tubes dancing behind the band, and tambourines tossed into the youthful aud (who responded throughout the night with high-pitched squeals), and a mid-set acoustic interlude that found the group performing in the middle of the Troubadour’s floor, lit by high-powered flashlights they handed out to fans. Not even the roughness that afflicted singer Kulash’s voice in the latter half of their set could dampen their sense of fun.

It’s nothing especially original or profound, but fun is something that’s in short supply today, which makes a band like OK Go all the more refreshing and welcome.

OK Go plays New York’s Irving Plaza Nov. 18.

OK Go

Troubadour; 450 capacity; $20

Production

Presented inhouse with KROQ. Opened Oct. 29, 2006; closed and reviewed Oct. 30.

Cast

Band: Damian Kulash Jr., Timothy Norwood, Dan Konopka, Andy Ross.
Also appearing: Something for Rockets, Quit Your Day Job.
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