Ok Go - A Million Ways - Audio Stream

Ok Go

Ok Go - A Million Ways - Audio Stream

Ok Go - A Million Ways - Audio Stream

Capitol Records – August 30

A couple years ago, OK Go performed at some live shows This American Life was doing onstage in several cities. I and the other writers on the program would do our thing, tell our little stories, and in between our bits, the lads would come out and sing their loud, catchy songs. It was like traveling with living catnip. We had huge crowds and people of every age-high school sophomores to senior citizens-just LOVED them, couldn't get enough, couldn't stop talking about OK Go. I wish I could describe what was so special about it; suffice it to say that the band simply overwhelmed the audience with this exuberant buzz of fun and happiness and youth and rock 'n roll. They were sexy in a way that had a kind of well-scrubbed pop innocence to it, but also was able to move a friend into murmuring backstage, "I want to fuck all four of them." This seemed to be a common response.

Another thing the audience liked about OK Go: they seemed smart, in a self-deprecating sort of way. Their songs were cleverly put together-part indie rock, part stadium rock, part straight up pop with the occasional whiff of the Pixies or The Cars or Elliott Smith. They're like a boy band that got seduced by Queen and wound up in college instead of Orlando. Listening to their music, I wasn't surprised to learn that their lead singer, Damian Kulash, was a semiotics major at Brown. Semiotics, after all, is just a bunch of theorists stripping down pop culture to its wiring and piping and component parts, to figure out the mechanics of how it gives pleasure. OK GO is all about pleasure.

The band's message seems to be: rock 'n roll can be fun without being dumb. It can be a pleasure without being a guilty pleasure. It can be accessible without pandering. It can be sexy without being trendy. This is a grand, old vision of what it means to be a rock star, and a very different vision from most of the music we get today. It's neither ironic, nor filled with a wistful sadness, nor superficially testosterone-aggressive. They seem like people who just love rock music and want to indulge in all the amusing, thrilling things it can do.

Some basic bio info about them: It's Damian Kulash on lead vocals and guitar, Tim Nordwind on bass, Dan Konopka on drums and Andy Duncan playing keyboards and guitar. Median height: 5' 11". Total weight of the band (without equipment): 624 pounds.

Damian and Tim met at summer camp when they were eleven and promptly formed a band called The Greased Ferrets that featured folding chairs played as drums. They claim not to remember any of the songs they wrote at the time but I don't believe them. They met Andy in high school and Dan in college, but somehow didn't form into OK Go until 1999, even though they all believed that someday they'd play in a band together. Figure.

When OK Go performed with This American Life, the band ended each of our shows with a dance routine they'd concocted. It was simultaneously a parody of a boy-band dance number and the best one ever choreographed, bringing down the house. People leapt to their feet. Half the moves in it, I swear, came from cheerleading squad. It was amazing to see these indie-rock boys pull it off and every time they performed it, I couldn't believe how lucky I was, how sweet life was, that I got a chance to witness it over and over. It was rocking, it was brainy, it was brainless. It was pure pleasure.

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