Going to an O.A.R. (Of A Revolution) concert isn’t unlike attending a Dave Matthews or Wilco show. It’s as much a fan driven event as it is a concert. Yes, the fans are rabid about the group, and they would be there come rain, shine, floods or a scorching heat wave.
First, O.A.R. chooses the groups they want opening up for them – not some record industry guy who has decided to “package” the tour with maximum money-making potential or some kind of a wide-exposure scheme for some band unrelated to the headliner’s music. (Who can ever forget the brilliant industry minds behind having Jimi Hendrix open for the Monkees way back when?)
This time out at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the hip-hop-meets-rock sound of Kelly James got the crowd cheering, especially when the official-unofficial O.A.R. keyboardist Mikel Paris joined in for some keyboard pyrotechnics. The crowd’s continuing enthusiasm for middle act Soja was undoubtedly because, not unlike the headliners, there was a killer horn section blowing a storm of notes into the band’s Caribbean-influenced beats.
Second, Ohio’s O.A.R. played what their audience came to hear – even though they just released a new album, “King,” about a week ago. With the exception of a couple tunes from it, their show was loaded with crowd pleasers like “Night Shift,” “About an Hour Ago,” “Shattered,” “Hey Girl” and their tour-de-force “Crazy Game of Poker” for an encore. O.A.R. delivered a high-energy, horn-fueled set full of big rock songs and soulful singing.
And third, an O.A.R. concert is a happening thing and a place to be if you’re hip and anywhere between the ages of 16 to 35. In other words, using the old vernacular, “Be there or be square.” And if you were there, you know it was a whole lot of fun.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk