Luke Moellman walked on stage in a makeshift astronaut suit: white jeans, white shoes, and a puffy white jacket with sewn-on patches. He began with a fade-in, synth heavy intro on his MalletKat and keyboard. Moellman played as his GGFO co-founder, Jon Sander, and their bandmates walked on stage one at a time. First came Danny Wolf, drummer extraordinaire, and then guitarist Carey Clayton. Sander walked on last, equipped with two fistfuls of glow-sticks, which he promptly threw into the crowd.
Surrounded by blue lights and dressed in black and gold (with the exception of Moellman), Great Good Fine Ok gave a galactic-themed show. Promoting their newly released album, III, the stage was full of green lasers, strobe lights, and multi-colored beam lights.
The intro gave way to the opening number, “Holding You,” an upbeat pop song with a mainstream, boy-band feel. While it wasn’t my favorite track of the night due to the lack of electronic edge when compared to GGFO’s earlier releases, it was a solid choice for an opener. It’s also one of their more popular songs and easy to sing along to. Combined with the energy of Sander (man, can that guy jump around a stage!) and his light-up shoes, the song did its job — it got people dancing.
The next song, “Always,” was accompanied by beam lights shining from behind the performers. As the band moved around, the lights would dance off the contours of their bodies. It provided a wonderfully ethereal complement to the more synth dominant song.
“Without You” from GGFO’s 2015 EP, 2M2H, took the galactic theme to new heights. It featured a much darker stage with flashing blue lights, accompanied by Moellman’s glowing blue MalletKat sticks and Sander unveiling a light-up tambourine (I didn’t see it coming, I had no idea where it came from, but I was fully on board).
The song was the first in the set during which Sander sang falsetto for the majority of the time, and with very few exceptions, he stayed in that range for the remainder of the concert. Cary Clayton gave a killer guitar solo, after which the instrumentals cut out and only lead vocals and harmonies remained, providing an opportunity for the audience to collectively clap and sing along.
The audience’s interactive spirit did not cease. Throughout the concert, the crowd was jumping and dancing, chanting “G-G-F-O” and belting alongside Sander’s falsetto. “Thank you guys so much,” Sander began his introduction. “Did any of you guys march today?” he asked, referring to the Women’s March in Los Angeles. “This whole show is dedicated to the women of the world.” The audience responded with a chant of “F*** Donald Trump.”
“Everything to Me,” one of my favorite songs of the night, featured a four-person brass and woodwind ensemble. While the quartet played on several other songs (including a brilliant saxophone solo on “Something to Believe In”), I felt that “Everything to Me” was truly their highlight. Their dynamism in contrast with the synth made for an incredible listening experience. At some points, I couldn’t tell whether what I was listening to was coming from the quartet on stage right or Moellman’s production setup on stage left. It was as if the quartet was imitating the electronic synth sound — creating a novel, interdisciplinary experience.
Great Good Fine Ok was engaging, commanding the stage and having a lot of fun while doing so. It made me love watching them, even though Sander’s mic levels seemed too low. There was a point during the concert when I couldn’t hear, or understand a single word to, “Say It All.” Judging by the reaction of my neighbors, it seems I was not alone. Though it did leave me in a bit of confusion, it did not eclipse the rest of the performance.
I greatly admire the way in which GGFO puts on a show. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but they interact with the audience and consciously promote positivity and love. The final song of the main set, “You’re the One for Me,” was the perfect closing number.
Sander introduced the song beautifully: “So, we released a new CD a couple of weeks ago. We were looking at this thing after we made it, and it occurred to us they were all love songs… why are they all love songs? Why did we do that? Eventually we realized nothing else [but love] really matters. Not just [love] between two people, but loving the environment you live in. Everyone deserves that. This is the first love song we ever wrote.”
Many people in the audience were waiting to hear the song and erupted into cheers when they recognized the familiar melodic “oooh” hook. The unity while dancing and singing along with a room full of complete strangers was a wonderful reminder of the camaraderie music can create.
Great Good Fine Ok Setlist:
1) Holding You
3) Without You
4) Too Much to Handle
5) Something to Believe In
6) Carried Away
7) By My Side
8) Already Love
9) Say it All
10) Get Away
11) Everything to Me
12) You’re the One for Me
14) Not Going Home
For more information, please visit GGFO’s website.