Saturday, August 22, 2009

OAR - January 27, 2007

Of A Revolution (OAR) was amongst the handful of bands I got into strictly by reading about them. I had never heard an OAR song, but it seemed like they were getting press coverage everywhere. It was necessary to check them out and see what all the hype was about. I ordered their two latest CDs at the time (Between Now and Then and Stories Of A Stranger) and it was love at first listen. I was immediately hooked by this amazing band.

Their fan base was rather rabid and rapidly growing. They had several online communities devoted to the band, a catalog of live music archived for anyone’s listening pleasure, and their fans were die hard the way DMB fans are die hard. It was a great a band to get into.

When the opportunity to see them live arose, I had to go. Of course, I didn’t know anyone else that was into the band (most of my friends being metal heads), so I asked the wife to attend with me. She willingly accepted even though she didn’t know the band at all. I played her the two CDs I had so she would at least have an idea of what they were like. She liked what she heard and we figured that we would have a great time.

It was a cold Saturday afternoon when we arrived into NYC. We had gotten there early to visit a bar or two, get a bite to eat, and still have plenty of time to witness the opening acts. Matt Nathanson and Gomez were on the bill before OAR. I was unfamiliar with either band, but from the little bit of online research performed, both looked promising.

My wife and I had a nice dinner then headed over to the Garden to witness the concert. We had decent seats for this one. Although it was higher up (in the 300s), the seats were close to stage left, giving us a good vantage point of the band.

Matt Nathanson came on first and was impressive from the start. I immediately made a mental note to pick up some of this guy’s work. He was incredible. The other fans appeared to be well versed in his music as they were singing along with a lot of his songs. He did a great job as an opening act, and I did go out and buy his live album not too long after this concert.

Gomez was next and they were not so hot. They were all right, but not spectacular. None of their songs were super-catchy or worth remembering, so I didn’t. They were getting a lot of radio play at the time, and there were high hopes for a good performance and perhaps a new band to follow, but neither materialized. Gomez was very plain.

After Gomez left the stage, the buzz was in the air. The headliners were taking the stage next, the band that we were all there to see. Looking around, I couldn’t help but notice that the majority of the crowd was very young, most of them under the legal drinking age of 21, and yet, it didn’t seem to prevent any of them from consuming way too much beer and acting very stupid. This would be the one part of the concert that would haunt us all night and take away from the overall experience of the show; the bands’ fans.

Unfortunately for me, I was sitting next to crazy arm girl. She kept swinging her arms in the air, elbowing me in the ribs, bumping my stomach, and then glaring at me for taking her sacred space. She was pressed so tight next to me that she was practically in my seat, but still had the nerve to look at me like it was my fault that her elbow kept finding my ribs.

To add to the debauchery, we were surrounded by quite a few underage girls that had way too much to drink and kept falling down, passing out, and otherwise acting like idiots. I’m sure they didn’t remember much about the concert, if anything at all.

The opening notes of Love and Memories hit the arena and the place erupted. This was a great song from their latest album and a good choice of an opener. Lead singer Marc Roberge’s voice sounded tight and clear as he sang out the chorus. I was singing along and my wife seemed to be enjoying herself. It looked like it would be a great night for us.

Untitled followed and though I didn’t know the song at the time, it was fantastic live! I was mesmerized and knew that I would immediately have to go out and get the album that this song was from. There was no question; it had to be added to my collection.

Living In The End was performed for the first time, a brand new song that OAR had been working on for their forthcoming album, and it rocked. A blistering, heavy rocker with excellent solo work from Richard On, this song was amazing! I couldn’t wait for it to be released so I could listen to it again and again.

For Black Rock OAR added a nice little bongo intro (played by everyman Michael Paris), which gave the song additional depth and a beautiful intro. I arrived at the concert enjoying Black Rock, I left with one of my new favorite OAR songs.

As a unit, the band was flawless. It was obvious that they had performed together for a long time and it was plain to see that they were proud to be playing at a sold out Madison Square Garden. Marc made mention to it a couple of times during the course of the night. The band soaked in the atmosphere of a sold out Garden and truly enjoyed every moment that they were on stage.

The final song of the main set was the one everyone was waiting for, That Was A Crazy Game Of Poker. I was anticipating it all night myself, but from studying previous setlists, I had a feeling it would arrive at the end. Poker did not disappoint. It was a long, drawn out, jam of a song, that sounded incredible in its live format and the Garden crowd sang and shouted every word back to the band. It was a moment that gave me chills.

The band slipped backstage after that, but we all knew an encore was coming. And for the encore, OAR gave a great one. They launched with an amazing version of 52-50 and it was the moment of the night for me. When Jerry DePizzo leaped up on the kickback amp and swung his saxophone out, playing the solo, I went nuts. I’ve always been a big fan of the saxophone and Jerry plays it astonishingly well.

The last song of the night came in the form of City On Down, a great musical movement to end on. I wasn’t that familiar with the song, but became an instant fan after hearing it live. It was another OAR song that I would be spending a lot of time with in the future.

In the end, I thought the OAR concert at Madison Square Garden was an excellent experience and it cemented me as a big fan of the band. In concert, OAR is up there with the greats like Dave Matthews Band, Bruce Springsteen, and Bon Jovi. They gave us an evening to remember and I would be able to cherish it forever as a few months later this concert was released on DVD. Thanks OAR for putting on such an entertaining evening.

Love and Memories
Hey Girl
Living In The End
About Mr. Brown
Heard The World
About An Hour Ago
One Shot
Dareh Meyod
Something Coming Over
Black Rock
Lay Down
That Was A Crazy Game Of Poker
City On Down

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