- Set 1:
* with Foxtrot Zulu.
Reviews solid show with a good set list. I really liked the bands energy even with a small venue and not too many ACTUAL o.a.r. fans. -thewanderer1469 April 26, 2009
A thick aroma of beer, sweat, and great anticipation filled the Spaulding Gymnasium on the campus of Keene State College last Friday, but the show truly began long before O.A.R. took center stage later that evening.
A warm and sunny afternoon had students everywhere sunbathing, tossing the pigskin and simply enjoying the final weekend before the reality of final examinations and term papers set in.
O.A.R., which stands for Of A Revolution, and best known for their appeal to college students, arrived on campus at 2:30PM via a glorified red coach bus with students packed around trying to get a glimpse. Chris Culos, drummer for the group, stepped off, squinting from the plentiful sunshine made his way over to crowds of screaming, mostly girls. After a brief exchange of “I love your music, you’re so cute” and a giddy photo-op, the smiley Culos departed backstage.
As the afternoon careened towards an 8PM show-time, and members of O.A.R. milled around campus, often unnoticed, the energy in the air was that of pure excitement. One Quinebaug Valley Community College student, Pete Dwyer, a 20 year old sophomore bought his ticket for $35 via a pal met on Craigslist and camped out the Gymnasium beginning at 12:30 in the afternoon. Dwyer remarks of his enthusiasm for his amazing 75th show as such: “O.A.R. are true guys, with real music, not stuck up assholes.” Dwyer was not alone in his adoration for the group as Becky Lotstein, a 22 year old KSC senior remarked “I really like [O.A.R.’s] music, it’s really chill, and awesome that they’re at our school.”
Anticipations were clearly high for the Maryland six piece, and when O.A.R. frontman Marc Roberge took the stage three minutes before eight to announce opening act Foxtrot Zulu and proclaimed “are ya’ll ready to get busy!?,” the half empty gym responded in a spirited affirmation.
Foxtrot Zulu, a seven piece, horn and saxophone laden group, belted out their high energy reggae/ska/rock hybrid sound complete with screaming guitar solos and melodious vocal harmonies, but ultimately, even after repeated free t-shirt tosses, failed in connecting with the audience. The incredible on-stage energy Foxtrot Zulu undoubtedly exhibited was not mirrored whatsoever by the crowd. After eight songs and guest vocals and saxophone work by Marc and Jerry of O.A.R. respectively, Foxtrot Zulu ended their set at 8:50.
After chants of “Yankees Suck,” “O.A.R.,” and an unidentified drunken man attempting to start the wave, the lights finally lowered, crowd filled to capacity, and the band assumed their positions. With the lights aimed at center stage, Marc Roberge, acoustic guitar in hand, belted out the musically wondrous tones of “City On Down,” much to the eager excitement of the crowd.
Presentation and sound quality are two worrisome factors in small arenas, and while lights and stage setup were impeccable, sound was an entirely different issue. During Zulu’s set, the mighty sound system made it difficult to even think, but when O.A.R. plugged in, it felt as if I had earplugs in. O.A.R.’s sound techies recognized the issue, but did not rectify the situation until later in the set.
As the show proceeded on O.A.R. truly amazed the seasoned fan with tunes spanning the entire discography of the group. The band drove down memory lane with the emotional “Black Rock” and “Conquering Fools” from their 2000 album “The Wanderer,” spanning all the way to “Shattered” off last summer’s “All Sides” offering.
Such a history lesson was not appreciated by all as the crowd showed their general lack of knowledge for the group by scratching their heads in confusion over “Dinner Last Night,” an inside cut on the recent “All Sides” album. Conversely, the highlight of the night was “Shattered,” the bands’ radio-friendly earful, with a catchy chorus sung by all.
The stage energy stemming forth from the group was inspiring. Smiles were everywhere, and Marc Roberge continually added “Keene” to sets of lyrics much to the awe of the crowd. Chris Culos, the blonde haired drummer’s face was perpetually lit up with a look of “how did I get here?,” and the energetic and improvised solos of lead guitarist Richard On, were a jaw-dropper to musicians and fans alike.
After a wondrous cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends,” the original Beatles, but Joe Cocker style rendition, and a determined encore punctuated by the obvious crowd favorite “Crazy Game of Poker,” the night drew to a close after two hours and seventeen songs, but not before Marc Roberge amiably hung out with fans, signed autographs and took pictures.
Josh Buckley, a 20 year old KSC Junior put a cap on the night and remarked about his experience and the bands’ performance: “absolutely awesome...to play in front of such a small school and still have that much energy, it’s incredible. I’ve seen them multiple times and this was by far the best.”
-edtheman3250 April 26, 2009