O.A.R.: Wantagh, New York, August 9, 2012

O.A.R.: Wantagh, New York, August 9, 2012
Mike Perciaccante By

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Nikon At Jones Beach Theater
Wantagh, NY
August 9, 2012
Rockville, MD's O.A.R. (an abbreviation for the band's full name, Of A Revolution) took the stage at Long Island's Nikon at Jones Beach Theater to the opening notes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Can't Stop." Before the first verse of the Chili Peppers' song had finished, O.A.R.'s frontman Marc Roberge, along with guitarist Richard On, drummer Chris Culos, bassist Benj Gershman and Jerry DePizzo on saxophone, were already launching into "Dangerous Connection" and the adoring crowd was on their feet and boogeying in the aisles.
The demographics of the audience members spanned the gamut from under-aged teens to older, dedicated and hardcore fans who have been devotees since the '90s. Each segment of the band's fan base was treated to the show that they came to hear. O.A.R. delivered with songs from King (Wind-Up, 2011) including the previously mentioned show opener, "Heaven," and the Led Zeppelin cover, "Fool In The Rain." Throughout their two-and-one-half hour show, the band (augmented by MikelParis on keyboards/percussion, Evan Oberla on trombone and Jon Lampley on trumpet), peppered their set list with songs from their entire canon, including "Black Rock," "Hey Girl," "About An Hour Ago," "Conquering Fools" and "Shattered (Turn the Car Around)."
Roberge made it a point to speak directly to members of the audience (acknowledging the "large number of familiar, friendly faces out there" who had followed the band throughout the country during the 2012 Summer Crush Tour) while also announcing that the band was thrilled to be back in Long Island at the beach. He repeatedly stated that he thought "we'd never make it back here. We're so happy to be playing at Jones Beach again."

As members of the faithful danced, jumped, juked and shimmied in their seats, through the aisles, and back and forth throughout the storied venue, O.A.R. mixed their reggae-inspired songs with their more traditional rock songs. O.A.R. is known to some as a reggae and ska-influenced band, but that really isn't the case. It is true that their sound incorporates some roots rock with a touch of ska and a dash of reggae. However, the same can be said for many bands that get characterized as fitting into any number of different genres. In addition, some have wrongly slotted the band into the jam band category, and while many of the songs checked in at well over five minutes in length, because of the strong lyrical content and amazingly tight performances (both audio and visual), there was never any feeling that the band was jamming for jamming's sake. It was, however, during a few of these extended performances that the brass section shined. Each member of the three-man section would step forward and take the spotlight. Occasionally the three traded off and bounced a call-and-response melody between the sax, trumpet and trombone.

The night's strong set list borrowed from each of their studio releases: King, The Wanderer (Everfine, 1997), Souls Aflame (Orfin, 2000), In Between Now & Then (Lava Records, 2000), Stories of A Stranger (Lava Records, 2005), and All Sides (Atlantic, 2008) were well represented, as were songs and arrangements from the band's numerous live albums. "The Wanderer," "Love and Memories," "Road Outside Columbus," "City On Down," "Program Director," "About Mr. Brown," "On My Way" and "The Stranger" all found their way into the set and were met with approving cheers from the faithful.

Toward the end of the concert, Roberge and On explained that they wanted to play a tune from out in the audience. After making their way to the soundboard area at the back of the orchestra pit, Roberge announced that the next song was "meant to be sung around a campfire with friends," at which point they played "I Feel Home." They then made it a special point to thank the members of the armed forces (past and present, in attendance, those serving here and those serving on foreign soil). With all eyes on the center of the amphitheater and the remaining member of the band on stage, Roberge and On performed a tour de force version of "War Song."

Next up was the concert staple, "That Was A Crazy Game Of Poker" with its stirring lines:

"And I said Johnny whatcha doing tonight?

He looked at me with a face full of fright

And I said, how 'bout a revolution?

And he said right.

I say of, you say a

I say revolution, and you say jah

I say of, you say a

I say revolution, and you say jah

I say of, you say a

I say revolution, and you say jah

I say of, you say a

I say revolution, and you say jah"

...lyrics that always bring out the best in the band as well as the audience.

Roberge then announced that he and the band had decided that they would not play a typical encore; rather, they would "play through to the very last second that they were allowed," and an exclamation point was placed on the evening with the closer, "Delicate Few."


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