Friday, July 20, 2012

Jon Hamm Dresses as a Big Apple, OK Go Return

Eugene Mirman brought together another crew of "Pretty Good Friends" to open for OK Go tonight at Williamsburg Park.  Last year's downpour (so wet I had to throw my shoes away) possibly deterred many concertgoers, but those who braved this evening's perfectly comfortable weather got quite the show.

The show started about an hour earlier than the Internet had informed, but I was able to see the whole thing.  Eugene likened the redesigned park to something out of season 2 of The Wire, where you might find a dead hooker.  As ridiculous as the Waterfront was set up last year (the stage faced the East River so the band got the view), they have now taken all views away, situating the stage in front of high walls blocking the water.  After doing some bits about a trip to England and a stint on a Christian dating site, Eugene turned the mic over to Bunk's Kurt Braunohler.  Kurt did some solo jokes and then performed a ventriloquist act with Kristen Schaal as his dummy.  Unannounced guest Mike Birbiglia dropped in and told the tale of the time he was arrested.  Kristen Schaal returned with her interpretation of The Little Match Girl, and before she could leave the stage, Mirman notified the crowd that Schaal is moving to LA.  He presented her with a cake of the Statue of Liberty with Kristen's face, and then to the surprise of everyone, Jon Hamm walked out in a large apple costume.  Standing in as the Big Apple, Hamm held out a pledge that the audience recited to wish Schaal luck and help her to avoid the proverbial casting couch.

While this was all very funny to us on the ground, the sounds of laughter had a hard time reaching the stage in the outdoor space.  This was especially apparent during Bobcat Goldthwait's set, where he felt like he was bombing and referred to the crowd as a "flash mob of apathy."  After coining his new catchphrase "I pooped a little," he finished with a harrowing airplane story full of hilarious tangents.  The headlining comic was The Daily Show's John Oliver, who made some very astute comments about recording concerts with cell phones ("I would be enjoying this, but I'd rather enjoy it later and smaller."), and closed out his set with Obama's halftime locker room speech for the U.S. to thunderous applause.

With the chairs out of the way, it was time for OK Go.  I'd only seen them live once at the Soho Apple Store back in 2007, so I was wondering: How does a band that has become so known for their music videos translate that visual experience to the stage?  Simple answer: CONFETTI.  In addition to the floating paper pieces (which will never compare to the blizzard at Fun), a projection screen behind them revealed live footage from cameras mounted around the stage (including Damian Kulash's microphone), animated spinning treadmills, and olives and toilet paper exploding in front of grotesquely patterned wallpaper, with which the band has an obvious fascination.  But what about the music?  Clean guitars, remarkable backup vocals from Tim Nordwind and Andy Ross, and even "Return" played completely with hand bells, so as not to disturb the neighbors.  "Those people are trying to sleep, and those people are counting their money," said Damian, gesturing to the new condos on the waterfront.

"We haven't played a show in like three months, but the reason we haven't is because we're recording a new record," Kulash divulged.  Good news for fans.  Better news for New Yorkers came when he confessed that he just moved to NYC.  "Are you nice?" he asked.  Mostly yeses from the congregation.  "The best part is you're honest. All the guys say no because they're New Yorkers, so they're assholes.  Can I be an asshole with you?"  More yeses.  He jumped off the stage, picked a spot in the crowd right near me, and played "Last Leaf" amongst his new neighbors.  He turned 180° halfway through the song, so the right and left could receive the same treatment.  It appears he's got a lot to learn about being an asshole.

OK GO – 07.19.12 – WILLIAMSBURG PARK (1 hour, 1 minute)

Do What You Want / White Knuckles / Needing/Getting / Invincible / Return / Last Leaf / A Good Idea at the Time / Here It Goes Again / I Want You So Bad I Can’t Breathe / A Million Ways / Get Over It

Skyscrapers / This Too Shall Pass

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