Arts concert review

Colors, commentary, and confetti

Ok Go’s Live Video Tour is as creative as their music videos

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OK Go filmed their music video for "Upside Down Inside Out" in a reduced gravity aircraft.
Courtesy of OK Go

OK Go: The Live Video Tour
Berklee Performance Center
Nov. 2

When an audience member asked about the filming of the elaborate Rube Goldberg machine in the group’s “This Too Shall Pass” music video, OK Go’s lead singer Damian Kulash recalled, “We hoped and hoped that it would work. And it mostly didn’t.” The audience chuckled at his answer, but I found the sentiment to be all too reminiscent of basically any engineering-related project I’ve ever worked on. Many of OK Go’s videos include incredible feats of engineering mixed with art, and I think that that combination is what got me so interested in their work.

Half live music, half film screening, with bouts of audience interaction and Q&A throughout, this was the most oddly-formatted music event we’ve ever attended.  

“We like to make the videos about a human experience,” Kulash said when discussing the vision behind the videos. He mentioned that the band intentionally makes the filmmaking of their videos plain so that the audience can feel more connected. Everything interesting visually is happening to people within the video itself rather than as a result of post-production editing. “That way, people feel the experience with us,” he added.

When asked who he’d most like to collaborate with for future projects, Kulash said he wants to collaborate with mathematicians and specified that he’d love to work with Erik Demaine, a Computer Science professor at MIT. We at The Tech would love to see such a collaboration and thoroughly encourage both parties to get in touch, post haste.

The band members have a variety of musical talents. They shuffled between various guitars, drums, keyboards, handbells, wind chimes, buckets, water glasses. This still wasn’t as outlandish as the music video they were playing along with. Most of the instrumentation of the song was performed by strategically placed items which the car they drove bumped into. It’s an amazing video. Really, go watch it if you haven’t seen it.

In addition to being a guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist/wind chime-ist for OK Go, Andy Ross is the lead developer of a mobile game company (how does this guy find the time?) and created an app for the concert that audience members were cryptically encouraged to download before the show started. When you opened the app, you saw three buttons (a left arrow, center circle, right  arrow), which respectively caused a bell sound to play out the phone speaker and a solid color background to show.

Later in the show, we were encouraged to take out our phones. Reminiscent of a deliberately unnamed music-based video game, columns of colors appeared on the screen. As arrows and circles fell in time with the music, we had to tap the buttons to contribute to the song. The song, aptly titled, “What to Do,” began with a plea from Kulash: “You guys are the whole song, so don’t — you know what I mean.” I don’t think we ruined the song by any means, but Ross was definitely correct when he warned us beforehand that our rhythm would be horrible. Luckily, with some help from the band, we were able to mostly pull it off and have fun doing so.

When the band returned for an encore, they performed two more songs, but not before commenting on the sheer amount of confetti on the stage. “It’s a sign of a good show when there are six inches of confetti on the stage,” said Kulash. We would agree — the show’s mishmash of genres made for a memorable experience.