Event Review: She Wants Revenge, OK Go And The Year Of Accelleration
The Rialto Theater, Tucson, Arizona, May 1, 2006
Artists: She Wants Revenge, OK Go And The Year Of Acceleration
Venue: The Rialto Theater, Tucson, Arizona
Date: May 1, 2006
The Rialto Theater in Tucson, Arizona, has a rich, controversial entertainment history including vaudeville, the first Talkies, flappers, strippers and "Deep Throat" ... but this night rock ruled supreme as She Wants Revenge, OK Go and The Year Of Acceleration took the stage. SWR and Ok Go sit on the edge of today's new rock.
Their music and image aren't mainstream or pop, yet each band has a huge fan base across the country and throughout the world. I liked their fans and it was one of the best crowds I've been amongst in a long time. The ages in the crowd ranged from teen to thirty-something. Some wore homemade shirts displaying "OK Go" and black tape Xs, while others sported brightly colored Mohawks or ponytails.
Christopher O'Gorman, the lead singer for The Year Of Acceleration had an exciting, voluminously clear quality to his voice. They're a rock band that sounds a little bit like U2 with a lot of power. Chris belted out "Airport" as he leaned over the crowd. His voice soared, crested and fell, while it kept its full force and edge. The guitarists were spot on and the drummer was freakin' hot. The girls in the audience shrieked when Chris came near, and an appreciative crowd cheered when they were done.
A projection of paisley prints appeared on the stage and the crowd started yelling. OK Go
bounded out, took their places and rocked away. Their songs were hallmarked by fast, energetic rhythms as Damian Kulash's vocals went from light to fiercely passionate in an instant. This was a polished, expressive and addictive band.
In the coolest shirt, with little animals on it, Damian played his guitar and sang "Oh Lately It's So Quiet." The light and lilting chorus was fun, while the catchy melody had the crowd singing along. Damian's vox were playful in this rousing piece that had the pit rocking.
Dan Konopka's drums rolled out and Tim Nordwind set in with a heavy, deep bass rhythm for the dark, hard, moody instrumental intro to "Invincible." Damian's voice was tinged with anger as he sang "When they finally come to destroy the earth/ They'll have to go through you first..." Then he shouted into the microphone about that look a woman gives that makes her invincible. He portrayed a mood of frustration and I made plans to practice that look.
At the end of their set Damian looked off stage and shouted "Do we have about four minutes?" He turned to the crowd with a knowing smile and announced "We're going to do the video." A cheer erupted as keyboard and guitarist Andy Ross took off his jacket and solemnly stood front and center.
The others joined him, took their places and stood still until the music for "A Million Ways" hit the beat and the dance started. These guys were good. Tim lip-synced "Lipstick and callus/ Fishnets and malice..." and he was funny while exuding personality out every pore. Damian's face perfectly expressed every line of the song and mood of the dance. Dan couldn't help himself. His legs would escape his controlled demeanor and start to shake to the beat. The dance was insane, fun and incredible live. Screw the video ... see it in person!
OK Go was truly an enigma. Every song they sang was a surprise, from the emotion charged drama and clever lyrics, to the attention grabbing performance. It was easy to see why so many people love them.
Critics often compare She Wants Revenge to Manchester's Joy Division and Interpol. However, their sound has more of a dark, heavy, post-punk revival quality, mainly provided by the rough, deep vocals of Justin Warfield and the band's overpowering rhythmic edge that hints at reggae and techno. They're rich, more in the present and have their own unique resonance. I talked to some of their fans and when I mentioned the other bands, their eyes glazed over. They didn't care about comparisons or bands of the past. What they cared about was the music of SWR and they loved it with a passion.
When SWR took the stage, Justin Warfield's face was lit only by a blue green glow from below, while was only lit by a red one, which fit the mood of the music well. A long driving beat started "Red Flags and Long Nights" and the audience bounced to the consuming rhythm of this shadowy, reclusive piece. The theater was packed by now and the glint off people's eyes in the dark theater echoed the mood of SWR with their almost eerie and otherworldly songs.
A crush against the stage started during the intro to "These Things" and the crowd whistled and cheered. Adam 12 played both keyboards and bass during this song and he's obviously the instrumental genius behind SWR's music.
Shadows outlined Justin's face in the faint glow; he was moody and tense as he sang "There is nothing to see here people/ Keep moving on." Scattered throughout the audience, arms reached upward as more and more people beat their hands to the rhythm 'til the pit looked like rolling waves on the sea. This dark, sad, lonely song seemed to strike a chord in many as they earnestly sang the words back. At the end, everyone cheered and screamed.
At the first notes of "I Don't Wanna Fall in Love," with its fast infectious techno rhythm, spontaneous dancing erupted throughout the building. Justin moved his body back and forth as he sang and rocked out during the instrumentals bridges.
A cool, relentless, drum beat broke out and the audience recognized it right away. They answered back with screams, pushing and agitation. Fueled by this reaction Justin and Adam 12 played their hit song "Tear You Apart" with driving force. The drums became more intense, the floor exploded in movement and the crowd sang with them. Near the end, Justin held his microphone out to the audience as they loudly shouted back "I want to tear you apart."
The show was over and grinning people flooded out the doors. It was a great concert. From the pure vocals of The Year of Acceleration, to the intelligent, fun and addictive OK Go and the dark, passionate, dance music of She Wants Revenge, it was a concert filled with a full range of emotions and rhythmic movement, all delivered by the awesome fringe of alternative rock.
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