Columbus, OH, Lifestyles Community Pavilion, July 25, 2006

 

Written and photos by: Jason Perlman

 

Walking through the gates of Lifestyles Community Pavilion, the undertone sounds of ticket brokers selling to avid OAR fans can be overheard, and as ticket prices neared three digits, it was a wonder if $100 tickets were worth the price of admission.

 

Only time would tell, and it took 50 minutes of opener Jack's Mannequin and another 40 minute set change to allow OAR to prove to those paying three times face value the show would be worth a week's pay at a part-time job. And for those that paid the price, one could argue that none were disappointed after the hometown heroes' performance.

 

Opening the set with a hometown favorite, Road Outside Columbus, OAR and frontman Marc Roberge took the crowd by the palm of their hand and danced them like amateur marionettes for the 90-plus minute set. From the moment the intro began, the audience was ready to work on the whitest dance moves and took no offense to anyone's frantic flailing assumed to be dancing.

 

Beautiful things can happen at concerts, and some of those happened at OAR. Even though the crowd was made up highly of college students that spend as much time worrying about what others are thinking of them as they think upon themselves, the music of OAR seems to open a part of the brain that allows those self-conscious fans to open up and at least for awhile forget that others are around and barriers are dropped and child-like fun can begin.

 

The 17-song set list was comprised of music from the early days up to the 2005 release, Stories of a Stranger. It was near the end of the set that OAR broke out old-school with Crazy Game of Poker, but fans were not worried about the set list, as OAR never seems to disappoint with enough popular material to give the novice fans, but also have enough die-hard favorites to appease those who have been following the band since the 1990s.

 

Although Roberge would seem like the crowd favorite as his voice carries just about every song, it is when alto-sax player Jerry DePizza breaks out into a brief solo that the masses get to cheering. When looking at OAR as a whole, it seems that no one member takes the lead to be the face of the unit. But taken individually, every member has a tremendous talent pool to swim in and all those quality musicians are able to put aside personal pride for a great sound.

 

Mentioned before is the ability for OAR to allow personal freedom, and perhaps part of that is the fact that members are also being themselves on stage. There is no pretense to try and act like the Grateful Dead, there is no outfit discussion as to what a jam band should put on and there is no definition to their music. This is a band that writes what music they feel and what music they would want to listen to. By being true to themselves, it allows fans to have that personal autonomy as well.

OAR is one of those bands that can play live with what looks like no effort or forethought. But when delved beyond the surface, it is amazing exactly how much energy does actually go into each show. From the set list to the music to the stage set-up in general, OAR is a thinking band that flows its instinct rather than trends. And with that passion exerted in its performance, OAR receives just as much crazed delight back from those out in back of the lawn to the front of the security barricade. So whether the show was worth the $100? Well, the only ones who can answer that are the ones that paid that price, but it would seem hard pressed to find someone who didn't stroll through the gates upon exiting that would say they overpaid for the ticket. Except maybe the couple that was breaking up at the seats outside the White Castle during Lay Down. I don't know what happened once she walked out and he began to follow (not that narcissistic), but perhaps amends were made, or perhaps OAR will be a black mark for those two. Either way, OAR's easy-going sound and poppy lyrics made for a great time for most.

Richard On
Marc Roberge
Jerry DePizza
Chris Culos
Mikel Paris
Marc Roberge