It’s an hour and forty-five minutes past show time. The “genie,” which is used to assemble the lighting rig, malfunctioned. The experienced stage crew works patiently, while the band waits back stage for their cue. The crowd chants “O.A.R.” and “Start the f***ing show!” One or two skirmishes break out among the impatient members of the crowd trying to push their way to the front. As “A Beautiful Day” by U2 plays on the PA system, the band finally takes the stage. O.A.R. is very comfortable on stage. They are not trying to act like rock stars. These five musicians are just being themselves and that is very refreshing to see from a young band. The opening song, like most of their songs, is upbeat and lively. Many of the lyrics are about hanging out with friends, having a good time, appreciating the simple things in life, and enjoying the company of a female companion.
When O.A.R. dips into their jams, they primarily stay within the context of the song, unless they tease lyrics from some of their influences like Bob Marley’s “Lively Up Yourself” and the Greatful Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain.” They are good at bringing the crowd down and starting with a melodic solo, usually lead by their saxophonist who is possibly influenced by some jazz musicians like John Coltrane. His solos are smooth, soulful, and aggressive. He plays a well-rounded mix of sustained notes and staccato allowing his solos to communicate with the audience.
The guitarist, who also led several jams, is not flashy by any means. He does, however, play to his strengths. He does not try to cram too many notes into his playing, allowing his solos to breathe. He plays his guitar with some nice warm tones, complimenting the band’s sound beautifully.
The band slowly builds around these solos as they work up to the climax together and transition back into the song. While the band executes these solos well, they unfortunately repeat these patterns in a very similar fashion throughout the show. After a while the music becomes pre-dictable and many of their songs sound the same. These jams are of a similar style to those of the Dave Matthews Band, who they will be going on tour with this summer.
The fans feed off of the band’s energy well, some choosing to dance in the back of the room, while fans at the front of the stage sing along with most of the songs as the lead singer encourages them to do throughout the show.
Some fans are kicked out of the concert for crowd surfing, but as there was no announcement made that it would be prohibited, this was unexpected. By the sixth song everyone got the hint, however, as they noticed that 19 fans weren’t coming back. Other fans got kicked out for smoking and some for pushing matches. Some of the O.A.R. fans must not be listening to what the band is attempting to communicate to them, because the band promote a very positive atmosphere.
The band had to stop twice between songs for the lead singer to say, “We’re all trying to have a good time here, right?” This came after he received notice that some people were getting hurt in the crowd because of surfing and pushing matches. It’s too bad some of their fans just couldn’t catch on to the message they was delivering. This was also evident in the case of lewd comments that are made to some women in attendance by fellow fans. Before the band performed their hit single, “Hey Girl,” the lead singer said, “I respect my girl.” Clearly, they would not condone such behavior.
O.A.R. has an original sound, but it’s a little too much of the same style as others. They definitely have a future as a band because they have earned their fans through extensive touring and this will only continue as they hit the road with the Dave Matthews Band this summer, which they will complement nicely as an opening act. They show the potential to grow musically, but they will have to do it by their next record and tour if they want to keep growing as individual musicians and a band.