LIVE: OK Go, Stott Center, Portland, OR

I don’t know about you, but I find school spirit contagious. Perhaps it was the free pizza, coconut water and coffee that got people fired up, maybe the prospect of t-shirts being lobbed got people going, but the celebratory mood was palpable.

OK Go was to play in the Peter Stott Athletic Center as part of Portland State of Mind, which seemed to me to be a weeklong campus event, culminating in tonight’s festivities. Egg shakers, tambourines and glowsticks in all fashions were passed out, and the event was ready to begin.

After some pre-show words and T-shirt tosses from KPSU’s finest, the massive March Forth Marching Band’s 10+ members graced the stage. Again, the energy from everyone on stage was clear. A few seconds of suspense, and the wild rumpus was underway.

Busting right out of the gate with a New Orleans funeral groove and stilt-walkers (STILTS!), M4MB mesmerized and did not ever let up. Acrobatic stunts, sychronized and Vaudeville style dancing (with audience participation involving spanking the person on either side of you), and of course more stilt work (!) wherein one reporter would wonder if the Stott’s ceiling was high enough for such things, all on top of fantastic, groovy, sexy big band music. I haven’t been so thoroughly engrossed in a performance by a band I’d heard absolutely nothing about beforehand in a long while. Many members mentioned they were Portland natives and PSU students, and I could not be prouder.
Following a few minutes of what I’m calling “Breathin’ Time”, There were a few announcements/raffle giveaways/etc, then the main attraction stormed onto the stage. Frontman Damian Kulash explained this was their first performance in over two months, and no flecks of rust showed. They opened with fan favorite “Do What You Want” and played a myriad of others, including “1,000,000 Ways”, “Get Over It”, “Invincible” and “Here it Goes Again”, unfortunately without the exercise equipment they’ve become known for. They played a rendition of “Return” around a table equipped with handbells, Kulash infiltrated the crowd for an acoustic round of “Last Leaf”, and metric tons of confetti were dropped on the unsuspecting public, sometimes 3 or 4 times in a song. After leaving for a few seconds, they returned (don’t think i didn’t notice that pun) in light-up clothing and had laser shooting guitars at the ready for an almost otherwise completely unlit “WTF?” then the army of March Forth was brought back up to assist in the epic closer that was “This Too Shall Pass”.
 And with another few blasts of shredded paper, the evening had reached its end. PSU students left to wander back to their dorms or to whatever massive party was inevitably underway in someone else’s. TOGA. TOGA. TOGA.

— Darren Hicks

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