Sunday, August 14, 2016

O.A.R. Live @ Dow Diamond July 17th, 2016

                                                            O.A.R Live @ Loons Stadium
                                                                    Midland Michigan

O.A.R. Of a Revolution

O.A.R. is the brainchild of a group of true believers who began their musical journey as teens in Rockville Maryland. As luck would have it, these fledgling musicians would continue their quest for the perfect sound while attending Ohio State University. The lineup consisted of Marc Roberge (vocals), Chris Culos (drums), Richard On (guitarist), Benj Gershman (bass) and Jerry DePizzo (sax, guitar).

In 1997 they recorded their first album entitled the Wanderer at Gizmo Recording Company and several of their songs like Black Rock and That Was a Crazy Game of Poker continue to be staples of their live performance. They never looked back and they never compromise their craft. Instead of bowing to the wishes  of the big companies Oar refused to use much marketing to bring in an audience. Instead OAR played as many shows as they could whether it was fraternities or sororities @ Ohio State or to anyone who cared to listen. It was ballsy for sure but they finally hit pay dirt with the fourth album entitled In Between Now and Then. They broke into the Billboard Charts at number 156 and they never looked back. They got a ton of airplay from MYV with such cool videos as Lay Down, Love and Memories and Heard the World. By 2006 they officially sold over 1.2 million albums.

With this continued success the band continued to evolve from reggae, ska and jam music to more rock and pop arrangements. The band always remained humble and attributed their success and popularity to the recording, trading and downloading their live performances. The band remained active releasing   their albums every few years.  In 2008 they released their All Sides LP on a USB wristband along with instant live recordings of the performances. They released Rain or Shine on January 2010. This band was on top of their game, more than prolific, they were incredible! They even returned to the studio in 2010 to record their 7th studio album entitled KING and debuted at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 200. Several singles were released from the disc including Heaven, Gotta Be Wrong Sometimes.

In May 2016 Oar announced the release of a compilation album to align with the bands 20th Anniversary, It is titled the XX Tour; An Evolution of a Revolution. Vanguard Records is releasing a two CD set in August to celebrate Oar’s legacy. It is a career spanning retrospective that includes their best known songs such as Peace, Heaven and Shattered.

OAR  is performing @ Dow Diamond on July 17th @ 6pm. Featured guests include Vertical Horizon who hit pay dirt with the album Everything You Want which went on to sell two million copies; not too shabby, brother. Midland native Michael Robertson will open the show. His band is a well honed machine that takes music to a higher level; It simply breathtaking. They are an unusually gifted aggregation with each player and each vocalist commanding breathtaking skills. Robertson is a master songwriter, singer and guitarist who can go deep into the psyche whether its kidding in the square or laying it all out on the carpet. Be there!

The concert was delayed by about an hour due to the high winds. The Michael Robertson Band opened the show with a great rendition of Old Man with Honesty Elliot and Roscoe Selley lending harmonies and Robertson playing electric guitar with some tasty country licks. Highlights of their set include Blame it on You, Sale on Salvation (with the “won’t shoot liberals” lyric) and All of My Stories, a stoned masterpiece.

Vertical Horizon was a total surprise, Matt Scannell, the leader of the band was simply incredible. He seemed to channel Michael Stipe (REM) though his voice is much stronger. He has a great range going low and then soaring with a strong falsetto. The other band members provide delicious three part harmonies and the drummer is a Buddy Miles clone, a powerhouse; perfect timing, no missed cues. This band has it all with the speed, motion , perfect harmonies and a pinch of modesty. They did early hits such as Everything You Want and You’re a God. Radio friendly hits such as Best I Ever Had, I’m Still Here and We Are rocked the crowd. It was a triumphant set. Vertical Horizon is a great touring that should have a much stronger following.

O.A.R headlined the concert and they were simply breathtaking but no matter how you dice it up. The turnout was poor for such an incredible national act. They opened up with recorded sounds, words and music followed by a great song entitled Hey Girl. Syncopated drumming and a whaling organ set the tone. The lead singer, Marc Roberge is simply incredible and the harmonies are perfect! The band now has a trumpet player along with a saxophonist that brings more pizzazz to the show like its Mardi Gras time. The singer channels Paul Simon on some of the songs but the band has other ideas including soulful reggae splashes. The piano player colors the song with a trill that seems to cast a spell that is comforting. Highlights included Love and Memories, Anyway, Hey Girl, I Go Through, That was a Crazy Game of Poker and Heaven.

This was one of the best concerts I’ve seen in years, yet the attendance was dismal. I blamed it on Sunday night and the difficulty filling seats on an off night. Those who made the trek to Loons Stadium in Midland got there money’s worth and then some.


Bo White

No comments:

Post a Comment