I’m convinced that The Earth House has probably never seen so many people at one time squeezed into its upper level theater. Seated concerts and movie screenings have certainly yielded a full house in the past, but never a sold out, full fledged, nationally touring concert. And thanks to My Old Kentucky Blog, it's only the beginning of packed, all-ages shows for The Earth House.
It was a mild, April evening on the corner of New York and East streets downtown last night, but inside the church-turned-concert venue it was scorching hot and shoulder-to-shoulder. A few open windows were noticeable from outside but had little impact on the temperatures inside.
In support of their very recent release Suspicious Package, Earl Greyhound’s 45-minute opening set consisted mostly of new songs (including the beautifully heavy and soulful “Shotgun”). The entire presentation had an awesome, improv feel to it. Familiar favorites from the first album (“Monkey” and “SOS”) were made over and played with such fluidity that they nearly seemed like new songs altogether. As the new album predicts, Earl Greyhound’s music has shifted to a more progressive, experimental sound. The long, ridiculously awesome noise-rock close to their set confirmed this hypothesis.
Admittedly, I’m not a loyal fan of OK Go. In fact, I’m not familiar with their music past the wildly popular “Here It Goes Again” of 2007 which won the band a Grammy Award for "Best Short-Form Music Video". My desire to see this show as an OK Go novice was rooted in the band’s creativity and desire to be different. My suspicion was that OK Go would bring a fun, unique live show. Turns out, my presumptions were correct.
OK Go loved The Earth House and the simple thought of playing in a church. “I’m from D.C. and we grew up playing in churches a lot,” said front man Damian Kulash early in the set. He continued, “So it feels nice, like home, to be playing here tonight.” Later on, though, he would jokingly give himself a figurative slap on the wrist for “talking like a sailor” so much inside of a church.
Kulash was connected to the audience. He left the stage and his bandmates to sing an acoustic song from the center of the crowd. On stage, he spoke to fans as if he were conversing with old friends. “Microphone cams” projected an up-close-and-personal view of the individual band members on the screen between songs. Kulash even complimented fans on their vocal skills: Nice chutzpah singing without us, guys!
Immediately after the show closed and the band walked off stage, the audience began chanting “OK, GO! OK, GO!” After a few minutes, they grew impatient and began to sing from the band’s current single, “Let it go. This too shall pass.” In the crowd’s a cappella unison, their call for OK Go to return sounded very hymn-like and oddly appropriate for the venue.
When OK Go returned for their encore, they stood with backs facing the audience. Their wardrobes had changed and were wearing matching jackets with bright white LED lights on the back. The displays rotated in slot machine style until stopping to read OK GO. Loud cheers erupted and the band dispersed across the stage. Kulash and Andy Ross (guitar, keyboards, vocals) strapped on furry, white guitars equipped with red and green lasers on the tips. Fans were showered in confetti and bright laser lights continuously scanned the room during the extravagant close of the show.
Last night’s Earth House crowd was also the first to hear and see the band since leaving their label EMI and becoming independent. To celebrate, the entire show was recorded and was available for purchase at the end of the night on USB drives that resemble dominoes -- because, says Kulash, “we love fucking dominoes!”