O.A.R. at SPAC

Being called “one of the best live acts on the planet,” as O.A.R. is, I felt the band had a lot to live up to — which they didn’t. I had my first live O.A.R. experience at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center last Sunday and,they were good, but I wouldn’t consider them one of the best bands I’ve ever seen, let alone on the planet.

Openening for O.A.R. was Matt Nathanson. Anyone familiar with the movie “American Wedding” will recognize him from his song “Laid,” which was on the soundtrack. Matt started his set on Sunday with a song dedicated to Miley Cyrus, called “To The Beat Of Our Noisy Hearts.” Matt was a goofy guy, joking around a lot with the audience, and I’ve never heard anyone else sing a song about talking dirty to ice cream, as he said “Still” was (uh, yeah right… Read the lyrics and you’ll know he was making that up). He admitted to ripping off Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” for his own song “Princess,” and started off playing the latter before going into Springfield’s actual song, getting the audience to sing and clap along. Matt, who appears to be chaneling Dane Cook slightly in both his appearance and manner, had a lot of personality and was fun to be entertained by. He called his band — John Thomasson on bass, Aaron Tap on guitar and keys, and Konrad Meissner on drums — and himself “The fluffers,” saying O.A.R. are the real rockers, but they were great opening for the headliners.

The backdrop at the beginning of O.A.R.’s set was the cover of their new CD “All Sides”: a series of squares inside each other (minus the text in the innermost square that is found on the album artwork). Scarlet curtains then became the backdrop, which were eventually dropped to reveal multiple screens that had been installed, playing clips of the band and other images during their songs. The members of O.A.R. are Marc Roberge on guitar and vocals, Richard On on guitar, Benj Gershma on bass, Jerry DePizzo on saxophone, and Chris Culos on drums. There were good moments musically over the course of the evening, but overall, I was expecting more. The band did get better as the night progressed, but they didn’t have enough variety. Also, it’s great to see the sax getting some respect from rock fans, but Jerry DePizzo’s playing was borderline elevator music at times, and I was not expecting to have a comparison to Kenny G compositions pop into my head during a Rock/Reggae concert… I thought one of the best songs O.A.R. played was “Love Is Worth The Fall,” which is on the special edition Twilight soundtrack . It was more mellow and had a different sound than all the other material the band played, so I found it a nice change, and genuinely liked the song. I also especially enjoyed “Shattered” and “Black Rock.” At the end of the show the band was called back to the stage by lengthy applause and screaming, and they proceded to play a few more songs. For the first, they brought Matt Nathanson back out and covered The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” with him. Matt then left the stage and O.A.R. went on to play “That Was A Crazy Game Of Poker,” and lastly, “Night Shift.”

Videos from Matt Nathanson’s set:

Laid

Car Crash

Videos from O.A.R.’s set:

Hey Girl

On My Way

This Town

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