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OK Go – Electric Ballroom, London – 28th July 2010 (LIVE REVIEW)

Sunday, 01 August 2010 Written by Nick Hewitt

There are gigs that are impressive, gigs that are mediocre and gigs that just flat out suck. But then there are a very few gigs that grab you by the pit of your stomach and wrench you into a new appreciation of music you’ve heard for years, but never really listened to. So I take much pleasure in grouping OK Go into the latter, but I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s start from the beginning.

After watching the shit-for-brains security guards struggle with the concept of queuing, it was a relief to finally get inside the Electric Ballroom on Wednesday night in time to catch support act, Future, deal out some energetic pop-rock. After a couple of pints of Camden’s best social lubricant, all abusive rants regarding the door staff ceased and OK Go took to the stage as everyone watched on with a childish anticipation.

They set to it amidst enough confetti to put a US president in office and the crowd were thrust into the realisation that this set is going to be indiscriminately enjoyable. ‘Needing/Getting’ followed, with a deep set intensity and the gig progressed, switching back and forth between their second and third albums, stopping briefly to pay homage to an audience member who’d apparently replicated the entire dance moves to ‘A Million Ways’. Things get frantic with the opening chords to ‘Here It Goes Again’, which brings on a communal fit to bounce even the squarest of onlookers.

ImageAs the crowd attempts to rearrange in the aftermath, a table is brought centre stage and each band member steps away from their instruments. Damien addresses the playful curiosity by announcing, “We’re going to play this song entirely on the instrument God himself invented, the hand bells.”, and they roll into ‘What To Do’. The dumbstruck audience remains momentarily quiet, until it’s apparent that this version sounds incredible and well practiced, at which point the sing-a-long breaks out. Damien struggles a little to keep a crowd this energised quiet, having to fight back his laughter long enough to sing the lyrics, which only adds to the endearing nature of the performance. However, any over-enthusiastic crowd participation was entirely of their own creation and the song ended amidst an appreciative outburst.

The low tempo continues as Damien wonders into the crowd armed with his guitar and a mic stand to perform the acoustic ‘Last Leaf’ on a small platform which raises his head just above the crowd level. The sincerity of this track makes you feel a little like you’re intruding on his personal life and he finally succeeds in calming those surrounding. However, the quiet is short-lived as there is a revert back to their debut album with ‘Don’t Ask Me’ and ‘Get Over It’, which are played with a revelry not usually associated with artists playing tracks they’ve had for eight years.

With the atmosphere encouragingly jovial, OK Go storm through their closing tracks, encoring with light-up suits and guitars riddled with lasers. They wrap the set up on the climactic ‘Do What You Want’ and chaos ensues with yet more confetti, which sticks to the particularly sweat-covered, creating a paper mache effect. This seems to bother no one however, and the resounding noise upon their departure is indicative of how thoroughly engaging and unique this band are.

Catching up with Dan Konopka briefly after the set, I asked how he and the band were finding the UK crowds to which he replied “Yeah they’re great. It’s a lot of fun here.” And with the riotous response they’re receiving it’s no surprise. In retrospect, it’s a shame that OK Go aren’t able to fill larger venues, but it’s with a selfish indulgence that I’m glad. This performance was so all-inclusive it encouraged a regular back and forth between band and crowd only possible in a more intimate setting. Damien, Andy, Tim and Dan frequently laughed at the crowd and each other, displaying their abundance of personality and showmanship.

Whilst in sound alone their music carries itself, the visual performance has charm and gravitas, making OK Go a formidable live act who are underrated in the UK. This was evident at the Electric Ballroom and the contented audience left euphoric, with many offering a cheerful thank you to the vacant looking security staff. Screw anger management; happiness is only an OK Go set away.

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