The Donnas/OK Go

The Galaxy, St. Louis, February 18, 2003

It was a co-headlining tour, and it was sold out. First up was OK Go; frontman Damian Kulash literally bounced onstage—no broken ankle holding him back, as back in December. The band’s 13-song set included nine songs from their self-titled Capitol Records debut, as well as two covers and two unreleased originals. After the clever “There’s a Fire,” Kulash noted that the drinking crowd was forced to the far side of the dance floor. He then dedicated a song “to all you people stuck in the cold hinterlands.” Thereafter, he referred to the crowd as “St. Louis” (the dance floor) and “old St. Louis” (the over-21 crowd).

As always, unofficial fifth member Burleigh Seaver contributed mightily to the onstage energy. As one fan remarked, “He’s playing practically nothing, yet he looks like he’s making all the music.” The best numbers of the night were those that fully possessed all members of the band: “Treacherous Friends,” a cover of the Specials’ “Nightclub,” the aforementioned unreleased “Unrequited Orchestra of Locomotion,” and “Bye Bye Baby.” During “Nightclub,” Kulash was wholly consumed, flailing and jumping, standing on speakers and playing to the audience.

At one point, guitarist (and Paul Schaffer–wannabe) Tim Nordwind grinned at the audience and said, “So, ladies and gentlemen, I look good,” to which Kulash informed him, “You look bald and wet.” Tonight, the choose-a-cover vote went—just barely—to the Smiths’ “Panic.” One more song—the single, of course—and it was Donnas time.

As animatedly as their predecessors had taken the stage, the Donnas simply walked to their instruments (or, as in lead singer Brett Anderson’s case, mic stand). “What’s up, St. Louis? We’re the Donnas. How you doin’? Are you ready to rock?” And they were off, playing “It’s on the Rocks” from their latest Atlantic Records release, The Donnas Spend the Night. The girls’ set was heavy on new songs, which didn’t seem to displease any members of the crowd.

Anderson introduced nearly every song; bassist Maya Ford provided the only other between-song chatter, occasionally screeching “Do you wanna rock?” or telling bad Michael Jackson jokes. Anderson told of meeting their youngest fans earlier in the day: “They have their own band, and we want to hear them someday.” She dedicated the next song, “You Wanna Get Me High,” to the boys, making me wonder how much thought really went into the whole dedication business anyway.

On guitar, Allison Robertson was captivating. Not only is she a solid and respectable guitarist, but she has just the right amount of attitude and cool. (Plus, she’s far cuter in person.) Torry Castellano keeps a steady beat, too, a veritable mane of blonde hair flying behind the drumsticks.

“Was anyone here the last time we played the Galaxy?” Anderson asked the crowd. “Well, for you—both of you—thanks for coming back.” Other highlights from Spend the Night were “Dirty Denim,” “Too Bad About Your Girl,” “Take Me to the Backseat,” and, of course, “Take It Off.” The Donnas returned for a single encore before bidding the crowd goodnight.

Opening the show was Rooney, a young band with a solid pop sensibility. Though unfamiliar to most of the crowd, the fivesome managed to win fans and hold interest throughout their set. Their debut album is due out on Geffen next month.


About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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