April 27, 2010

Ready, Set …

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There were no flashy sets, no giant hamster balls and no images of naked dancing girls on a huge jumbotron screen. But OK Go didn’t need glitz and glamour to put on an incredible show. On tour promoting their new album Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, the quartet made a pit stop at The Haunt on Sunday night.

Two openers graced the stage before OK Go — The Booze and Earl Greyhound. The Booze, an Atlanta, Georgia based R&B/Blues/Rock band did a pretty good job at getting the crowd’s energy up. Chaz Tolliver, the group’s lead vocalist and resident harmonica player, sang in a drawl that had the audience wishing they were driving down an open country road. Playing a 6-song set off of their album Rebirth of the Cool, along with some entertaining banter with the audience in-between songs, they supplied a moderate amount of good old-fashioned southern-rock energy that radiated from the stage. The band’s signature touch was a sudden ending that kept the audience on their toes wondering if a guitar chord would be the conclusion. Overall, they were a fun and pretty cohesive group that knows their identity as well as their roots.

While the crowd was in consensus about The Booze, they were split on Earl Greyhound. The Brooklyn based band started off on a somewhat confusing foot — their sound check appeared to be the start of the set. When the audience realized it was just the sound check, there was a chilling and collective “boo” (the worst sound any performer ever wants to hear). Once they began, some of the crowd seemed indifferent to their self described “noisy acid sounds of modern rock.” Others got really into the band and started spastically dancing by the side of the stage (especially one guy who flailed his arms in strange movements and seemed to think he was auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance. Fail, good sir, fail).

Their sound was much darker than The Booze. Most of their songs from their album Suspicious Package gave off the “I understand life and it sucks man” vibe. Early Greyhound’s stage presence certainly picked up any lack of enthusiasm from crowd members. Bassist and singer Kamara Thomas nodded her head in a clockwise rotation so many times that it looked like an exorcism was being performed on her. During their finale, the song seemed endless. It seemed as though if they stopped playing they would die or at least lose out on their chance at getting in The Guinness Book of World Records. It just went on and on… Suddenly, drummer Ricc Sheridan blew a kiss at the audience, made a peace sign and threw her sticks into the crowd. If it wasn’t the audience’s cup of tea, the volume certainly kept them awake for the act everyone was there for.

Without a treadmill in sight (the band’s initial claim to fame), the Chicago based band took the stage. The audience was completely ready and psyched to dance away to the quartet’s brand new, but recognizable beats. Mixing in songs from OK Go and Oh No with their new album Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky, most of the audience was able to sing along with every song. Crowd favorites included “WTF?,” “All Is Not Lost,” “This Too Shall Pass,” “Skyscrapers,” “Do What You Want” and “Here It Goes Again.”

The band was completely at home in the Ithaca crowd. With it being their second show in Ithaca, they were ready to enjoy the “mysteriousness of Wegmans.”  Lead singer Damian Kulash was as witty and charming as ever, telling the audience that the night had 3 main themes: Technology, rock stars and asshole investment bankers (one audience member was particularly animate, screaming “That’s not me!”). The band’s real main focus was to keep audience participation high and in a constant state of excitement by making everyone wonder what the group had in store for them that evening — from throwing tambourines into the audience, to asking the audience to play church bells and asking for complete silence (while keyboardist Dan Konopka mouthed “WTF?” at anyone who spoke).

Damian would continue this tongue-in-cheek wit without ever missing a beat — even by going into the crowd  and sitting on a platform to play a solo when he paused, scanned the crowd and asked “Are there even any white people here?” in jest of the typical indie-cool crowd.  At one point in the show, he stood on a chair and took a photo of the audience to “use technology” and so the audience could “tag themselves in the photo and find the hottie they were too shy to talk to at the show” because that’s apparently what Facebook is used for. One major announcement the band made was that they broke away from their record label EMI over embedding issues. They are doing so well without their record label, that they joked they now travel in separate helicopters and bass guitarist Tim Nordwind had a separate pedicurist for each foot (“sometimes they just do a different foot better”).

When OK Go left the stage, the audience was desperately craving more from the quartet. Chanting the band’s name and a rapid-fire amount of applause, there were suddenly fluffy guitars (yes, fluffy) brought onto the stage. The band lined up on stage with their backs facing the audience when their jackets suddenly lit up in a casino-like slot machine. Their jackets ended up spelling “OK GO” as they took their places. As they started the encore, jets of red and green lasers shot out from the fluffy guitars and the audience tried to swipe at them like cats. And trying to outdo The Flaming Lips amount of confetti, they shot out confetti not once or twice, but 15 times into the audience.

After the band’s final bow, the audience clapped manically, unable to move from their positions, mesmerized by the fantastic and somewhat intimate show. If anything, the Ithaca crowd is more than OK with the great band.

Original Author: Allie Miller