I have to admit, before New Times music editor Martin Cizmar asked me if I wanted to review O.A.R.'s show at the Birds Nest, I was only peripherally familiar with the band. "Aren't they a hippie jam band?" I asked. Fortunately, the chicks in my life came to the rescue to give me a crash course: My girlfriend loaned me a CD and my sister DVR'ed some concert they played at Madison Square Garden, so I was practically an O.A.R. expert by the time last night's show rolled around.
As it turns out, O.A.R. is definitely not a jam band, at least not in the Phish/Grateful Dead/Allman Brothers sense of the term. Unless popular music has gotten to a place where simply having a guitar solo or reggae break in a song qualifies you as a jam band, these guys just don't fit the bill. Not to mention, they're way too clean cut to be a jam band. Mix in some long hair and beards, fellas.
We arrived at the Birds Nest shortly after 6 p.m. Duck Soup opened the show and damn near hit for the shitty cover band cycle. They played "Margaritaville," "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Sweet Caroline." The only thing that kept them from going a perfect 4-for-4 was the noticeable absence of "American Pie." The decent-sized crowd of baby boomers in Ping and Titleist hats seemed to be having a good enough time, though.
O.A.R. hit the stage shortly after 8 p.m., and I still wasn't getting any kind of jam band vibe. There was no patchouli or weed smoke in the air, just the ever-present reek of cigars, and nary a drum circle in sight. The attendees seemed to fit neatly into one of three categories: Too Old To Be Wearing An Affliction T-Shirt Guy, Polo Shirt And Backwards Baseball Cap Guy and their respective overdressed girlfriends and wives. Actually, that was probably the most surprising thing about this show - the prevalence of sausage. I've been to death metal shows where the girl-to-guy ratio was more favorable.
As far as the actual music goes, O.A. R. seemed to put on a decent enough show, if that's the type of thing you're into. Judging from the crowd reaction, they played most of their hits, and even mixed in a cover of Joe Cocker's cover of the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends." Yep, a cover of a cover. It was that kind of night. O.A.R. catches a lot of shit from indier-than-thou music snobs, and I was fully expecting to hate them. But ultimately, they were just so bland, predictable and unthreatening that it's hard to even muster the energy to trash them.
Here's my best attempt at a setlist:
1. Love and Memories
2. Wonderful Day
3. Black Rock
4. This Town
5. About An Hour Ago
6. Lay Down
8. Whose Chariot?
9. (no clue)
10. What is Mine
11. With a Little Help From My Friends
12. Hey Girl
13. Delicate Few
15. Shattered (Turn the Car Around)
16. City on Down
17. (encore) That Was a Crazy Game of Poker
Last Night: O.A.R. at the Birds Nest
Better Than: A Broadway musical
Personal Bias: I hate musicals.
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Random Detail: I helped a drunken, crying chick get her sim card back into her phone.
Further Listening: Slayer's Reign in Blood, just to cleanse the palate
By The Way: This was by far the whitest concert I've ever been to. Granted, it was at a golf tournament in Scottsdale, but still, I think I saw two black guys and one Asian dude the whole night.
Photos by Luke Holwerda