Photo by Andhi Bonanza | Staff Photographer

Jadie O’Connor

Los Angeles-based band OK Go made a splash at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Campbell Hall on Sunday, replacing the usual lineup of course lectures with resounding bass, confetti, and humor. 

Known for their stunning one-take music videos such as their Rube Goldberg-based performance for song “This Too Shall Pass,” OK Go has garnered tons of recognition for innovative work, earning three VMAs (Video Music Awards), a Smithsonian American Ingenuity award, and a Grammy award for the “Best Music Video” category.

Therefore, it was no surprise that Sunday evening’s performance was sold-out and attracted a diverse and eager audience of all ages.

The band played along to their famous music videos and transformed the show into a type of live documentary as they paused in between songs to discuss their creative process and answer the audience’s questions.

OK Go also played their songs in chronological order of when they were released, offering insight into their history and ways they have evolved.

After showing a quirky dance video from when the band first formed in 1998, the four members of OK Go took the stage to thunderous applause and opened their performance with “Get Over It,” a song from 2001.

However, once the song finished, the band had some technical difficulties with the lead guitar’s audio.

Luckily, lead singer and guitarist Damian Kulash, who also did most of the talking for the show’s question and answer sessions, skillfully entertained the audience with witty and laid-back jokes while the crew scrambled to address the issues.

Kulash even performed a spontaneous acapella rendition of a “Les Misérables” song with fellow band member Tim Nordwin to keep everyone in high spirits.

Despite performing “Don’t Ask Me” and “A Million Ways” with no lead guitar and secondary guitarist Andy Ross having to play Kulash’s part in the iconic “Here It Goes Again,” the band bravely continued through the performance.

OK Go impressively demonstrated the true meaning of the phrase “the show must go on.”  

Eventually, the technical issues were fixed, which contributed to a higher level of satisfaction for the rest of the concert as the band continued to play their most renowned songs including “WTF?,” “This Too Shall Pass,” and “All Is Not Lost.”

In spite of the mesmerizing footage on the screen behind the group, the band members playing their instruments on stage gave an intimate, stripped view of what OK Go really is like behind their flamboyant videos.

The Q&A sessions between the songs also supplemented this personal atmosphere, as the band members warmly engaged with the audience. Kulash revealed how, “the amount of fun making the videos is inversely proportional to the amount of fun watching them.”

The band was still able to add their trademark, inventive element to their live performance, such as playing “Shooting the Moon” entirely on bells and “Needing/Getting” on some makeshift car parts.

One of the concert’s true highlights was when the audience members could “play along” to one of the songs on their phones. The band members asked everyone to download an app prior to the show, which they later revealed to be an instrument itself.

This culminated in a crowd-pleasing, interactive experience that redeemed the band after their technological mishaps.

While OK Go’s official genre is alternative rock, the performance proved that the band consistently adds elements of pop and classic rock to their music as well. Kulash’s breathy vocals and drummer Dan Konopka’s upbeat rhythms put the group’s somewhat simple instrument collection of guitar, drums, and keyboard to amazing use.

Despite the overall liveliness of most of the songs, the band also demonstrated a more melancholy side with the song “Last Leaf,” performed with only an acoustic guitar.

After playing new hits “The Writing’s on the Wall,” “I Won’t Let You Down,” and “The One Moment,” the band concluded the evening by bringing a few children from the audience to play and dance with them on stage.

They performed the song “Skyscraper” without any backup music video footage and drew the crowd’s attention to the stage in a good-natured departure from live-scoring their music videos.

Despite an unexpectedly bumpy start, OK Go’s performance delivered nothing but good vibes and fun.

OK Go’s concert gave a strong, first time appearance in Santa Barbara and earned them a decisive, well-deserved standing ovation as the band exited the stage.


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that this was OK Go’s Santa Barbara debut, according to the UCSB Arts & Lectures website. A.S. Program Board first hosted the band in 2010.

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