In concert: OK Go at the Kennedy Center


OK Go brought its gimmicks to the Kennedy Center for a feww show on Thursday. (All photos by Josh Sisk/FTWP)

But people who’ve seen this band — and the many, many more who’ve taken in their wildly inventive videos for songs such as 2005’s “Here It Goes Again,” which was a sensation in the early days of YouTube, or last year’s “This Too Shall Pass” — know that these funny, imaginative guys always give a little extra. Actually, a lot extra. Maybe even too much. But we’ll get to that.

To celebrate the 14th anniversary of its Millennium Stage program, presenting a free concert every day of the year, the Kennedy Center called in local-boy-done-good Damian Kulash. Though the charismatic 35-year-old OK Go frontman no longer hangs his purple suit here, he grew up in the District, a bit of autobiography he shared early and often during the ebullient 80-minute concert.

Just hearing a loud rock band play at full club volume in the Concert Hall’s august environs brought a subversive thrill, more than enough to compensate for the fact that a malfunctioning video projector stymied whatever stunt the group had planned with the 3-D glasses. (They were the old, pre-“Avatar” kind, with the red-and-blue cellophane lenses guaranteed to induce an instant headache.) Kulash sounded almost forlorn saying, “The video’s not here and not in 3-D, but here’s the song.” The song? “White Knuckles,” an OK Go original that sounds like a better Prince song than Prince has written in 15 years.


But at least one gimmick — seemingly the most labor-intensive one, and the one that produced the most beautiful result — was new. Last time they came through town, the foursome performed a number entirely on hand bells. Pulling on white gloves, they reprised this trick, but with a different, more suitable song: the heartbroken lament “Return.” The room’s paneled walls reverberated the golden tones of those bells and Kulash’s aching voice as he moaned, “We were supposed to grow old.” You didn’t need 3-D glasses to get a chill from that.


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