Photos by Ken McCain
November 2, 2017 | Fillmore, San Francisco, CA – Expect the unexpected is what I’ve been told when confronting a new challenge. I’ve taken this adage with me to deal with many situations, some difficult, some not. The situation last Thursday was not difficult, though, in fact, I’d been to hundreds of concerts since I was a kid at my first show. Yet, the fact of facing the unknown is still tough. And OK Go, the Chicago-based band taking the stage at the historic Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, was new to me. Of course, most of us have seen at least one of their amazing music videos (they’ve racked up a few hundred million views on YouTube alone), so I was expecting that. They’ve done these videos with amazing timing, brilliant concepts, and colorful design, and so I was expecting that, too. They have nearly 1 million Facebook followers, and nearly 150K on Instagram, so did I expect all of them? Well, at first no. I tried to get friends to go, but a mid-week concert is a tough sell. However, as of a few hours before show time the show sold out. So, I found out the fans showed up!
They packed into The Fillmore as the first band, Sego, from Los Angeles, played on stage. Sego, a four piece band, got the crowd going with their alt-rock-punk stylings and were cheered loudly as they finished their short set. More fans came in during the stage change and soon the floor and balcony booths were full. Video is a large part of OK Go’s range. They won a Grammy for Best Video (“Here is Goes Again”) in 2007, and as an art form, video adds so much to what they want to convey. Once the stage was set the large double-wide screen in the background took the crowd through a sort of trip through cinematic time. Snippets of movies were spliced together to form the words “Okay” and “Go”. And as the montage sped up, so did the anticipation, which brilliantly climaxes into a scene from “The Omen 2” and Lee Grant screaming at the top of her lungs. (I won’t give it away, but let me know when you get it.) With that the band was called onto stage where they began their nearly 2-hour set.
OK Go has been together since 1998 and have only put out a mere 4 albums in that time. However, the list of accolades and awards in that time is long, and their fan base is huge. Their fans follow and flock to see them whenever they play, which seems to be on the more rare side for such a huge band. Damian Kulash, lead singer, mixes it up with the fans between songs, which is a rare thing, too. Their was a short Q & A with a few of the lucky fans, a song (“Long Leaf”) played out in the middle of the floor, and one fan was allowed to go up on stage to play (a one stringed guitar) with the band on the Blur cover of “Song No. 2”. OK GO loves their fans!
And if those things weren’t enough, there was confetti. Tons of the stuff. All. Night. This was something I heard they did, but I thought maybe just for one song, so I needed to be ready with the camera. No, it was more than once or twice. I’m still finding it in my gear bag and pockets. The spectacle, I believe, is for the enjoyment of the crowd as the band plays along with some of their favorite tunes. It adds something special, like the videos they make and use during shows. It’s also interactive, and according to Kulash, it’s biodegradable, with a “bit of a salty taste to it.”
OK Go has wrapped up their current tour ending in Santa Barbara, CA last night. Currently there is only an April date booked in Texas. They are a tough act to catch, and I’m glad and amazed that I was able to do so. Their live show, a hard rocking alt-rock style is very different from the cool videos they make. It shows a different dimension to this multi-faceted and highly talented band.
Expect the unexpected.
Upside Down & Inside Out
You’re So Damn Hot
The Writing’s On The Wall
I Won’t Let You Down
I Want You So Bad I Can’t Breathe
This Too Shall Pass
Last Leaf (Played by Damian in the crowd)
Get Over It
I’m Not Through
Do What You Want
Blur – Song No. 2
Turn Up the Radio
Black Dog (Led Zeppelin Cover)
The One Moment
Here It Goes Again
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