Calling a band a "jam band" can be just as stigmatizing as calling them a "Christian act" — a sizable, devoted minority of the music-listening population will see it as a real virtue, while the rest of us silently utter a prayer of malediction, à la Max von Sydow in the The Exorcist. Which brings us to the question: Is O.A.R. a jam band? Certainly, the Columbus, Ohio-based five-piece have their, ummm, "exploratory moments," and they do bear a strong structural likeness to jam-tastic acts such as Dave Matthews and Widespread Panic. They also have that vaguely collegiate, East Coast-y aesthetic that's endemic to so many jam bands — that ineffable, Hootie-esque something that enables them to get booked at major-league baseball games and provide out-cue music for ESPN broadcasts. (One of their first hits was a song about a poker game, naturally.) And like so many jam bands, the most offensive thing about them is that they're really hard to take offense at, with their pleasant, non-threatening chord shifts and low-key stage personae. So, yeah, O.A.R. is recognizably a jam band. We can live with that. At least they're not a Christian jam band. The Holy Father Himself couldn't forgive that trespass.
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