Back in 2015, I had pleasure of seeing indie-rock band OK GO live at the Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix. It was my first live concert in the USA and to say that it was thoroughly awesome, is an understatement.
However, this was not my first encounter with the band OK GO. For anyone vaguely familiar with Youtube, you may remember a little viral video of goofy guys doing a highly choreographed dance on treadmills. This was the birthplace of OK GO and ever since they have used the online platform to innovate and reach a worldwide audience.
The thing I think I find the most interesting about OK GO is that their music almost always takes a back seat to their creative videos. When music videos first started appearing on the market they were frowned upon by many critics and music enthusiasts alike for taking away from the music itself, a distraction from the true medium. So when Youtube opened the gateway that allowed anyone in the world to make and share visual content, OK GO jumped on the opportunity (literally) and changed the face audio/visual possibilities.
Now it’s easy to be perplexed by a musical band that seemed to have gained their fame from their visual content and although audiences tend to not seek out their music as much as their video, OK GO’s music is extremely well produced and they definitely know how to put on a high caliber live performance. I’m no music critic, but I believe that the array of interesting videos is highly complimented by their musical merits.
However, it’s the online combination of the two that takes it to the next level. OK GO not only pushes themselves creatively every time they release something, but they push everyone else with them. I believe that OK GO is the front runner in balancing independent and mainstream music. What we are seeing now in terms of audio/visual experimentation will set the standard for independent artists in the future, a more interactive format which will force new bands to consider visual content alongside their music.
What I find most inspiring about the band is their head on approach and full creative control. From what I can tell, front man Damian Kulash has his fingers in every step of the creative process, everything from concept to creation. The reason their videos standout amongst of a slew of others is because the band knows exactly what compliments their music and they have a fine eye for innovation. This is not to mention their understanding of their market and target audience. In this age, the possibility of going viral is powerful tool and OK GO has reached millions of people since their treadmill beginnings.
Here is my favorite OK GO video, a combination of traditional music video styles with the insanely intricate Rube Goldberg machine:
If you like what you see, check out their most recent Zero-G music video that is already making the viral rounds.