By Jarrett Oakley
Early 90s jam bands have the succulent distinction of being the all-you-can-eat buffets of music. Certain tunes can be tasty entrees of musical nourishment, while others are sweet dessert cakes that are uplifting and enjoyable.
Dave Matthews Band: bacon-wrapped filet cooked by Emeril. Umphrey’s McGee: a gamey bison burger of jam rock. O.A.R.’s performance at the new Verizon Wireless Amphitheater was the lukewarm scraps that sit under the hot lamps of a Golden Corral too long.
Now I realize I may have already lost some of you, but I urge you to read on; the cooking ingredients will be explained.
O.A.R. or “Of A Revolution,” is known for their intensity on stage and their heartening musical blend of reggae and alternative jam rock. Furthermore, their loyal fan base and their success with the release of the meteoric album, The Wanderer, have been the envy of bands since the 1990’s.
This five-person band has filled the bill as an opener to headlining sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden.
My expectations of this most recent performance were high. As they progressed through their first couple of songs, including “Love and Memories” and “3 a.m.,” the instrumental acoustics were muffled and the usually stellar vocals from lead singer Marc Roberge were muted.
To my dread, the show continued in the same-tempo, reggae-rhythm for most of the songs. They played tracks such as “This Town” and “Turn this Car Around” from their newest album All Sides (2008).
The coup de grace was the mind-numbing 4/4 bedtime story “I Feel Home.” The monotony of back-to-back songs in this sense was like listening to a blend of elevator music and the lethargic sounds of a babbling brook.
Had I paid for this show, it would have indeed been the most expensive nap I’ve ever taken.
Where were the songs like the inspiring “Black Rock” or the wonderful juggernaut “52-50” that made O.A.R. a household name? To compensate for the reading rainbow-esque first portion, O.A.R. utilized their only gem, saxophonist Jerry DePizzo.
Finally, the music was potent and actually worth a listen once O.A.R. played “City on Down” and “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker” (the only enjoyable song). “Poker” produced the largest crowd participation, and almost all of the adolescent teens and pre-teens were singing and attempting to dance.
After this lackluster concert I sat stunned and wondered if it was just me who didn’t enjoy the show or if there were others.
Stanley Bennett Bryant, first-year CHBE major said, “as an O.A.R. fan, the concert was very disappointing because the songs were predictable and overall it lacked the uplifting attitude O.A.R. is famous for.”
Overall, the show was a debacle right from the start. I was craving a show that I would leave feeling full and satisfied. Instead I had acid reflux from O.A.R.’s watered-down performance.
There may be many fingers to point as to who messed up the batter of this show. However, the ingredients of subdued acoustics, a lack of enthusiasm by the band, and a shoddy set list certainly spelled food poisoning for the patrons of O.A.R. last weekend.
My expectations of this show were of a hearty meal, not the dollar menu.