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The Paradise
January 27, 2006

By Stephanie Shim

At first glance, the boys of OK Go, with their sharp fashion that includes suits and button-down shirts in a cacophony of colors and patterns, brooches, cufflinks, and an unabashed fixation with everything paisley, do not immediately elicit images of choreographed dance complete with twirls and airlifts, but this, in fact, is what has made their sophomore release a roaring success. The second album, Oh No, involved a self-proclaimed strip down of the music to its raw essence compared to their self-titled debut that was purposefully over-produced as a sort of celebration of the new resources that accompanied a major record label deal. The result of this stripping is a powerful, gritty yet catchy rock album with power pop sensibilities that surges with an irresistible combination of wit and sheer force that manifest on the stage through frontman Damian Kulash's frequent, often alcohol-induced, seemingly all-knowing grins and the bands powerful performance on stage. The show at Paradise Rock Club on Friday night was no exception.

Before OK Go took the stage, a small band from Ann Arbor, Michigan rocked the club with their "wonky pop rock" that involved lighthearted lyrical humor, a highlight being a song devoted specifically to the band's affixation with the Olsen twins, coupled with impressively tight harmonies that evoke the voices of the Beatles and the Beach Boys simultaneously. Distinguished from each other more by tie colors rather than names or instruments, the band set the stage for a night of rock and entertainment. Unfortunately, the second band, Controller Controller, brought down the mood a few notches. Most of the band's charm was found in lead singer Nirmala Basnayake stage presence, but the songs that sound decent on recording all blended together live in drummer Jeff Scheven's monothematic beats and an immersing red light that flooded the stage throughout the entire set. Though they won over certain members of the audience, most people seemed ready for OK Go to save them from the red haze.

Finally, some time around eleven p.m., the boys of OK Go, Damian Kulash (vocals), Tim Nordwind (Bass, backup vocals), Andy Ross (guitar, backup vocals), and Dan Konopka (drums), came onstage to the sounds of "drop it like its hot" blaring from the club's sound system as images of paisley patterns projected on white sheets in the background. They began with a cover of Talking Heads "Stay Up Late" and the energy on the stage and in the crowd was permeable from the first note. Later on in the night, the band also covered Electric Light Orchestra's "Don't Bring Me Down." The set mostly included songs from Oh No such as "Television, Television," "Let it Rain," "Do What You Want," "No Sign of Life," and "Invincible," as well as favorites from the debut including "Get Over It," "Bye Bye Baby," and, of course, "You're So Damn Hot."

Interspersed throughout were amusing anecdotes and clever banter from Kulash, including Konopka accidentally peeing on the club's marquee's letters on a previous visit, steroids, ripping pants at the show the night before, and asking one of the few 21 and over members of the crowd (yours truly) to get him a drink from the bar. Then, as an encore, the band performed a live rendition of the choreographed dance for "A Million Ways" that hundreds of young adults everywhere have now committed to memory and that has spawned countless internet videos of living room and talent show imitations. Cameras flashed in nonstop succession and digital videos rolled roughly as the crowd laughed at and some attempted to dance along with what was most likely the band's millionth time dancing to the song's recording that blasted over the club's sound system. When Kulash, Ross, and Konopka lifted Nordwind, who lip-syncs the song during the dance, onto their shoulders in the final move, the audience erupted. After the show, the entire band came out to meet the fans, sign autographs, and urging people to sign up on their email list. The band's musical talent, witty likeability, and unashamed willingness to break boundaries and act like the geeks they know they are were very present at the show making the reasons for their success as obvious as their devotion to their fans.

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