Tunes N’ Talk:

A few months ago, my best friend told me some great news: OK Go, perhaps my favorite contemporary band, was coming to Champaign-Urbana. Better yet, I was hooked up to their publicist who set me up with an interview with Tim Nordwind, their bassist with the funky glasses. With these two things – seeing OK Go live and actually talking to them – crossed off my list of things to do before I die, my life is a few steps closer to being complete.

On Thursday, April 26, Star Course hosted OK Go with special guests The Living Blue at Foellinger Auditorium, complete with dancing, jumping and free tambourines. After The Living Blue played their opening, my path was set: a clear line to the front and center of the stage. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Quickly, other people caught on and the aisles were infested but united with OK Go lovers, dancers (like me), admirers and rockers.

The show began with “The House Wins.” The opening piano played along with the flicking vintage wallpaper motifs in the background, while the stage was black. Their silhouettes calmly jammed as the song continued, and my anticipation grew as I wanted nothing more for the lights to flash on them so I could see their lovely faces.

My wish was granted in the next song, “Television, Television,” – talk about looking at the hottie in the tight jeans. Anyway, they cemented the band-crowd relationship during this song with their extra energy and dance/rock-able music. Of course, I had already started rocking out at this point despite the not-much-room-to-move-let-alone-dance syndrome of the front of the stage, but hey, whatever, I made room. Their beat is too infectious to ignore or avoid in my every movement.

By the completion of “Don’t Ask Me” and the introductions from lead singer/guitarist Damian, the crowd was already intoxicated by the punch of the guitar and the entirety of the band’s musicianship. Taking the time to talk to the crowd is always a plus and should be mandatory for any “good” concert, but actually getting off the stage and swaggering through the audience is an entirely different story. Getting down and playing in the very spot I had stood three seconds before to play an acoustic set is also an entirely different story – in epic proportions.
The acoustic set was as bejeweled as their outfits, not to mention the flashing lights that sparkled through the set surrounding them in a glittering atmosphere.

The crowd and band danced through numbers such as “A Good Idea at the Time,” “Invincible” and “Here it Goes Again.” The show ended with “Do What You Want,” accompanied by those big blow-up thingys that blow around and appear to dance with the music (you, know the balloons you see in front of car dealerships and at downtown festivals). It was great.

All in all, the band was having fun – therefore, we had fun – and they delivered their music to the hungry crowd with a clever “gonna-make-you-dance” kind of feel. Their pop-rock songs are catchy with lyrics that our finals week, brain-dead minds don’t have to contemplate to be able to fully enjoy.

Wait! Don’t leave yet. Below is my little interview with Tim Nordwind. He likes giraffes.

buzz: What is your long-range objective?

Tim Norwind (Bassist for OK Go): Long career, making songs … I think that’s the reason we go into this in the first place. Music videos, art in general, I just enjoy making things and making a living being creative.

buzz: Are you a team player?

Tim: Yeah, I think I’m an especially good team player. I don’t know why. I just prefer to do things with the people around here than by myself – it’s more fun that way. You have to be (a team player) to be in a band.

buzz: Why should I hire you?

Tim: Because I have a Grammy?

buzz: Ha, sorry just seemed to be an appropriate next question. Your band appears to have a great dynamic. How would you say that factors into your performances?

Tim: I think it makes it a big party when we play, and it’s hard to do if one of us doesn’t want to do something. That way, when we get up on stage it’s a party every night.

buzz: How do you prep before a show? Anything unusual, normal, unspeakable?

Tim: Nothing unspeakable, we really don’t have any backstage tradition. We warm up, which is pretty boring and annoying to anyone in earshot. Other than that, the four of us try to get together 10-15 minutes before the show to get a feel of our energy that night.

buzz: How do you party/celebrate afterwards?

Tim: We’ve been on tour now for about two years now, so these days when we get offstage, there (isn’t) any partying in it. It’s more us trying to survive — we’re usually pretty mellow after we play, except for Chicago or L.A., where we have friends to hang out with. But mostly, it’s all about survival.

buzz: I see you have your own fan site. So let me just ask, who is T-rex to you?

Tim: T-rex is the best band on the planet. If you ever ask what I’m listening to, you know I’m listening to T-rex. I always recommend T-rex as the best rock band.

buzz: Favorite song to play?

Tim: “A Good Idea At The Time.” It’s got a good groove and always gets a good crowd reaction. I got a lot of good steps to that, too.

buzz: Favorite song to dance to?

Tim: “Young Folks” by Swedish band Peter, Bjorn and John. They’re the Outkast song, “Hey Ya,” of indie rock.

buzz: Favorite jungle animal?

Tim: Giraffe. They’re mellow. They just a chill animal. They seem like they’re happy and don’t hurt anyone. Peaceful.

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