Grad Club crowd Control

Controller.Controller seized control of The Grad Club on Saturday night, along with the evening’s openers, OK Go.
Controller.Controller seized control of The Grad Club on Saturday night, along with the evening’s openers, OK Go.
Photo: 
Damian Kulash of OK Go warbles for the crowd at The Grad Club.
Damian Kulash of OK Go warbles for the crowd at The Grad Club.
Photo: 

Concert Review: Controller.Controller w/ OK Go @ The Grad Club, Feb. 4

Those lucky enough to have made it to The Grad Club last Saturday night were in for quite a show. With three bands playing, the show was well worth the money and time. Headliner Controller.Controller was supported by two opening bands—the upbeat Chicago-based quartet OK Go and Toronto-based trio Stop Die Resuscitate.

Even at the all-ages matinee, The Grad Club was decently full. Even though the drinks weren’t flowing, the youthful crowd was energetic and it was apparent that most of the fans there were really dedicated to at least one of the bands performing. The show started off with Stop Die Resuscitate, an unconventional-looking trio that sang unconventional songs, including a cover of the Bloodhound Gang’s “Fire Water Burn.” Although the band was energetic on stage, their 20-minute set was tortuous to get through. Their sound was brash and deafening at times. Some of those in the crowd seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when the three stepped off the stage. However, they still did have a small fan base present in The Grad Club and their energy did help to rile up the crowd in anticipation of the proceeding two bands.

Following a brief intermission, OK Go took the stage for their first performance in Kingston. With each member of the band dressed in vintage-mod apparel and sporting stereotypical indie-rock hairdos, a sense of cohesion was apparent among them before they even played a single note. Set in front of a background of constantly changing retro patterns that matched their paisley shirts, the quartet graced the crowd with their upbeat and somewhat poppy indie-rock tunes. The energy of the crowd increased as hipsters danced, sang and clapped along with the group.

The stage presence of OK Go was remarkably suave and natural, conveying the notion that they had been playing together for decades. In between songs, vocalist and guitarist Damien Kulash told stories about an obnoxious audience member at one of their shows in the UK, complete with a Cockney accent. To fuel the crowd’s energy, Kulash left the stage in the middle of their cover of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” and finished out the song amidst the crowd. However, the most memorable and entertaining part of their set occurred after the four band members left the stage. Their new single “A Million Ways” was played through The Grad Club’s sound system and the band broke out into a perfectly choreographed dance routine amongst the crowd that would have put Justin Timberlake to shame. The dance routine, which is featured in their cult-classic music video for the same song, was undeniably foreign to an indie-rock concert, but the crowd couldn’t have loved it more. OK Go didn’t take themselves too seriously, and proved that they were not your typical uptight indie-rock band. After the rousing performance by OK Go, Controller.Controller took The Grad Club’s stage with their usual successful approach to playing at small and intimate venues. Set in front of a dramatic red backlight, the quintet invigorated the crowd with their energetic songs and subtle stage presence. By this time, many of those in the audience had taken to dancing along to the melodically edgy songs, led by the band’s vocalist, Nirmala Basnayake. While Basnayake didn’t have the innovative apparel—or height—of OK Go, she still took charge of the stage and successfully exploited the diversity of the band’s songs. The fans seemed to appreciate the sheer simplicity of Controller.Controller’s performance, in terms of both their sound and unexaggerated appearance on stage. After leaving the concert, I realized that sometimes the intended “headliner” of the night doesn’t always measure up to expectations. Although Controller.Controller put on a good show, OK Go definitely stole the spotlight.

Needless to say, OK Go impressed the crowd, and I left with a newfound appreciation for a band who gained notoriety being played on The OC. Thanks in part to their originality and talent, OK Go has a great deal of potential, and hopefully it won’t be long before they gain their deserved position as an official headliner.

Overall, the diversity of all three bands performing on Saturday night ensured that there was something for everyone in the audience to enjoy. And enjoy it they did.

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