OK GO at The Intersection (front room), Grand Rapids

The Intersection, 10 November 2009

In anticipation of their upcoming album release in January, Ok Go are on the road for a quick little tour with California band Princeton. They recently stopped by our little city for a show at the Intersection… the front lounge. A cramped little stage, barely any room for the band to move, let alone the sound crew or fans. But there they were, barely more than a local band, it seemed. Barely any lights to illuminate the stage, and every square inch of space surround what was considered a stage was filled with anxious fans.

Princeton took the stage first. Quite unfamiliar with them, before they even began I was already impatiently waiting for them to be done so the main attraction could take the stage. I knew many others shared my feelings, including the two women I shared my prime stage-side location with. Both avid Ok Go fans… cameras and notepads ready; they even had a book to read for the potentially not so interesting parts of the evening. Once Princeton started to play, though, I understood why they were there: they were certainly not just filler.

I began taking pictures, even a little video, despite the horrid, no… near nonexistent lighting conditions. They were quite good. Two brothers front the band, guitars and mixed vocals, plus a man on keys, then their drummer. At one point in the set, they even had their drummer join them on guitar for a drum-free song. They were quite interesting to see. An overall mellow band, but they certainly did their job in entertaining the masses and warming us up for the main act. I always enjoy seeing bands with family as well, it is interesting to see that dynamic at work.

Once finished, the chaos began to clear the stage, moving the fans aside in the ever so cramped space to replace what was with what needed to be. Ok Go tour manager, James, rushed around trying to get everything just right alongside the other staff. He was quite the impressive guy. Friendly to anyone who wished to talk to him, fans even brought him water or whatever he needed. He helped to set up the stage as well as work the sound board. He was a very full service tour manager, I had a nice chat with him before the show where he warned me as well as some others not to stand too close to the cannon….

The lights dimmed and the projector began… the white cloth hung behind the stage area now displayed a radiant array of colors, patterns and imagery that was nothing short of Ok Go. With a few last minute touches, the band was soon led through the crowd to the stage… which took a few minutes in itself, the cameras started flashing and people were reaching out to them as they passed, stopping to greet their fans along the way.

The show itself was something else… the poor man singing, Damian Kulash, was not in the best of health for our show. As he started to sing, you could hear the harshness, it eased a bit as the set continued, but you felt his pain. He did apologise for the problem, but you have to appreciate the fact that they didn’t cancel the performance due to his health issues. The energy was there, and certainly more than enough charisma. The rest of the band was primarily quiet between sets, but Damian greeted us, charmed us, flirted with us, amused us… he is quite the personality. Not to the point of great cheesiness or annoyance, but he kept his levels to most certainly entertaining.

They performed all the songs one would hope for, plus several of their new songs, including what had just been released on iTunes that day. They even performed one entire song with just hand bells, which was certainly a unique concert experience for me.

In the end, I did enjoy myself… I just left hoping they come around again to play on a real stage. Though I did enjoy seeing them with that local band feel… hearing them ask for less bass in the monitors and such… getting shifted aside by the tour manager when it is time for the confetti cannon to be ignited… it isn’t everyday you get to see a national band in close quarters like that.

Ok Go, okgo.net