Fresh off performing for President Barack Obama’s 50th birthday celebration on Wednesday evening at the Aragon Entertainment Center in Chicago, OK Go swung by the Fender/Filter Angels & Kings Artist Lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel on Thursday afternoon.
“Playing for the President’s 50th birthday is off the charts memorable,” said OK Go frontman Damian Kulash. “That’s crazy. I did feel a little bit like Marilyn Monroe though. There was sort of that weird moment of ‘happy birthday, Mr. President’. It was us, and Herbia Hancock, who is totally an idol of mine, and Jennifer Hudson. We each played sets and then we went out all together to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the president. J Hud and I both had microphones and we can hear ourselves booming in the house and when she got to the ‘dear ______’ line, she didn’t know what to say. Because, what do you say? ‘Dear Barack?’ No, you can’t say that! So she just stopped and it was just me going ‘Mr. President’. But anyways, it was great, amazing. Something I will definitely tell my kids about.”
The Los Angeles-based band is also in town to play the Lollapalooza Festival, which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary.
“Lollapalooza is just awesome,” said Kulash. “It’s iconic, and it’s amazing and it’s always had a great lineup. It became even better when they made the move to a stationary festival that could really, really explore music as opposed to this traveling thing that had become very hard to keep up with. We were here that first year when they moved it to Chicago, and it’s amazing to also be here on the 20th anniversary.”
Kulash still remembers the early days of the festival.
“I saw Lolla II and III when I was in high school,” he recalls. “It was just such a great idea. Back then, everyone I knew was a Jane’s Addiction fan and you couldn’t turn on the radio and listen to Jane’s Addiction. Everyone I knew was a Beastie Boys fan, but you couldn’t turn on the radio and listen to the Beastie Boys so you put all of those people in one place and tens of thousands of people showed up and we all just look at each other and go, ‘I knew you were out there.’”
OK Go play the Google + stage tonight at 7:15 p.m., and plan to then stick around to see Ratatat.
“Quality and proximity,” joked guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Andy Ross.
“I’m a huge, huge fan,” agreed Kulash. “I wonder if they’ll get to do their whole show. I’ve seen them a couple of times and they have this whole amazing stage projection setup which I doubt they’ll get to do at a live festival, but they are headlining so maybe they do.”
Bassist Tim Nordwind was looking forward to Ratata as well, but also thought he might arrive a little earlier in the day to catch the Cults.
“I’m excited to see Cults,” he said. “I really like them a lot.”
Kulash and Nordwind, who originally formed the band in Chicago with drummer Dan Konopka, also had some advice for those visiting the Windy City for the music fest.
Nordwind: Bring water, suntan lotion, a good attitude.
Kulash: The will to rock. And remember that festivals are like a taste test. All their favorite bands are there but they don’t get to do the whole show. So they need to know they are coming to get a little of this, and a little of that. And then leave the festival and go get Maxwell sausages.
Nordwind: Yeah, hot dogs are pretty good. Lula Café. Uncle Mikeys Candy. Those are all good spots.